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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jim Budd

Craig Dean, sentenced last year to three years for his part in the House of Delacroix Champagne investment fraud, was ordered on Monday 24 June to repay 133,692 to the victims of the fraud. At Southwark Crown Court, Judge Pearlman found Dean's evidence unbelievable and not credible'. This concludes the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the Cavendish/Hamilton/ Delacroix whisky and Champagne frauds. Dean had claimed that he had seen no benefit from 133,692 that was withdrawn from Helmsley Sprl, a Brussels-based company selling Cognac. After the collapse of Delacroix, Dean set up Helmsley Trading and Marketing Lda in Madeira in 1997, selling 100-litre lots of Cognac as an investment. Clients were led to believe they were buying a cask of Cognac. Dean claimed that the Brussels operation, a subsidiary of Helmsley (Madeira), was run by Ing Yang Oei, whom Dean had appointed manager yet claimed not to know very well, and maintained that Oei had run off with the money. It was claimed that Helmsley's Belgian book-keeper wrote in August 1999 to the Belgian police alleging that Oei had stolen 133,692 from the company. No record of that complaint has been found. Subsequent to his arrest in Madeira in May 1999, Dean set up Helmsley (UK) Ltd. One of its activities was to offer bulk Cognac on short-term contracts with a promise that Helmsley would buy back at a profit in six months. Unfortunately, in July 2001 Dean was declared bankrupt and Helmsley (UK) Ltd is in the process of being struck off for non-compliance. Dean has until 31 December to find 133,692 or he faces a further 18 months in jail.