Ex-Dundee FC boss fined for fraud

ANGUS Cook, the flamboyant former owner of Dundee Football Club, was fined more than £200,000 yesterday after he admitted masterminding a massive fraud operation that stretched across Europe.

Cook, a property tycoon, was also ordered to pay almost 600,000 in compensation to 27 companies that he defrauded of more than 420,000 over ten months.

Using an alias of Richard Arthur Thomas, of London, the Dundee businessman used a sham company to obtain goods, ranging from a 1,000 Cartier watch to 50,000 of chicken fillets, on credit.

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The millionaire businessman, who walked out of the boardroom of the Dens Park club 15 years ago after a turbulent four years as chairman, was eventually caught in an undercover police operation.

Appearing at Dundee Sheriff Court, Cook, 60, whose nickname while in charge of the Dark Blues was "Cook the Books", escaped jail after pleading guilty to the fraud charges. He now has 12 months to pay the fine.

Sentencing Cook, Sheriff Richard Davidson said: "This is a case where a significant number of people have sustained losses over more than four years, with some of those losses being substantial and my primary intention is for those who have sustained losses to be compensated.

"I daresay there will be a number of people in Dundee and elsewhere who would like to see you in prison but I do not see any purpose in doing that.

"Given the enormity of the offences, this has been a mammoth investigation by the Crown, Tayside Police and other police agencies, not just in the UK, but throughout Europe. They should all be congratulated in bringing the matter to a satisfactory conclusion."

Cook has lived a life of luxury with assets worth millions of pounds, including a commercial property portfolio held in a network of private limited companies.

The high-profile businessman lives with his wife Linda, 58, in a seven-bedroom mansion house guarded by seven security cameras, on a hill in the affluent Dundee suburb of Broughty Ferry, overlooking the river Tay.

Cook, who was caught in an orchestrated police raid at five of his addresses in Dundee, also has a penchant for collecting Rolls-Royces, designer suits with his initials AJC emblazoned on them, and sporting memorabilia.

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Earlier, the court heard that Cook, who had no previous convictions, had estimated assets of 1,653,980. The court was told how he had set up Krystall Limited in 1999 and had established a strong credit rating with traders by legal means.

However, he was disqualified from acting as a company director for seven years in December 2002 following an investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry's insolvency unit.

Faced without an income, he turned to fraudulent activities, including obtaining computer and photocopying equipment worth 73,655, prawns from Belgium for 53,738, 14,968 worth of household furniture from IKEA and about 6,000 worth of golfing equipment.

Cook pleaded guilty to defrauding large firms including Harvey Nichols, Sainsbury's, Argos, Jewson Ltd, and Keyline Builders Merchants as well as charges of stealing telecommunications equipment worth 11,750 from Caledonian Telecoms Ltd.