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Alleged travel fraudsters kept no business records, court hears

Three people accused of making millions of pounds by setting up bogus travel agencies apparently kept no genuine records of their sales, Southwark Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

Evangelia Liogka of Montpelier Place, Knightsbridge, Timothy Entwisle of Ludworth in Dorset and Christakis Philippou of Bark Place, Bayswater allegedly ran a string of travel agencies in London where they sold high volumes of discounted holidays before collapsing the businesses.

ABTA, the CAA and credit card companies were left to compensate disappointed holidaymakers.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Martin Edmunds QC said police searches had found no records or books relating to any of the businesses in the defendents’ homes.

“These are not master criminals. They made careless errors as they moved from business to business,” he said. “If these were genuine businesses they’d have a basic standard of record keeping, however chaotic or incompetent. We suggest that no-one expected these business to continue or survive.”

The only record of sales was on a piece of paper submitted by Liogka “a few minutes before she stepped into the witness box,” explained Edmunds. He added: “We suggest it was produced for the purposes of this case.”

He further claimed that the group made persistent use of nominees to distance themselves from the agencies, the court heard. “These people’s names were on the paperwork but they had no control in any real sense,” said Edmunds.

He urged jurors to look at the overall pattern of events. “If these were genuine collapses how could they pick themselves up and start all over again, and in exactly the same way?”

The four made a “perfect team, each with a different role,” the court heard. Philippou provided the start-up finance, Liogka supervised and managed the call centres, while Entwisle assisted with bank accounts, merchant services and investing the proceeds.

Liogka and Philippou, a couple, took their child on a £6,000 luxury holiday through Cadogan Holidays in 2006, which they never paid for, alleged Edmunds.

“They enjoyed a luxury holiday while their customers went without theirs,” he said.

Philippou, Liogka and Entwisle all deny five counts of conspiracy to defraud. Peter Kemp, who managed the day to day running of the businesses, has pleaded guilty to the same charges.

The trial continues with closing speeches from the defence today and tomorrow.

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