A London council has won one of the largest-ever Proceeds of Crime claims from an unscrupulous buy to let investor.
Andre Charles Trepel, who’s in his 70s, chopped three flats in the London Bridge area into around 20 cramped studios and bedsits.
Initially he was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £35,000 costs for breaching a planning enforcement notice, with a further £1,000 fine from his company – No.1 (London) Ltd.
But Trepel and the company will also have to pay back £1,118,601 criminal benefit under Proceeds of Crime confiscation orders within the next three months or he will face a seven year prison sentence.
The council originally won a planning prosecution against Trepel, from Trinec in the Czech Republic, for his illegal conversion of the three flats in 2010.
He was fined and ordered to return the property back to its original condition.
Subsequent investigations by Southwark council planning enforcement team in 2015 and 2016 showed that little had been done to rectify the situation and further charges were brought in 2017.
Trepel was again found guilty, but his sentencing was deferred while the council’s trading standards team conducted a financial investigation into the profits he had gathered from renting the properties.
It was agreed he would have received £1.2.m gross in rent on his London Bridge Street properties since 2011.
Under Proceeds of Crime Act rules most of the money will go to the government but the council will receive around £445,000 of the criminal benefit to re-invest in enforcement and crime reduction initiatives.
The council has restrained assets belonging to both Trepel and his company to ensure that the confiscation orders will be satisfied.