Waste boss faces four-year sentence with failure to pay £340k clean-up bill
A former head of a Welsh waste management company faces up to four years in prison if he does not pay £340,000 that he made illegally stockpiling on his site within three months.
The total bill owed by Lewis is £339,023.53 and a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at the court was told that Lewis’s various assets such as houses and vehicles would contribute to the total owed.
The money owed by Lewis, 46, will go towards the total £950,000 clean-up costs racked up after he illegally stored 4,000 tonnes of waste at his site in Nantyglo, Blaenau Gwent, which was only supposed to house 620 tonnes – an offence for which he served an eight-month prison sentence from October 2015.
The hidden assets Judge Daniels refers to comprise a sum of £73,695 removed from the account of Adrian Lewis Plant Hire Limited over the two-and-a-half months leading up to his conviction, which Lewis claimed may have gone on increased business costs but was withdrawn when he was no longer a director, and a sum of £39,000 removed from the account of Ace Waste Management and Skip Hire Limited over the three months after Lewis was imprisoned. Lewis denied all involvement with Ace Waste Management.
The South Wales Argus reports that Judge Williams stated he was “entirely satisfied” that Lewis was hiding additional assets, adding: “The defendant sought to mislead the court in claiming the purpose was other than that. The evidence that he had no involvement is, I am satisfied, untrue. He was continuing to salt away his assets knowing this day would come.”
The order to pay the clean-up costs is but the latest episode in what has been a long-running story, dating back to a fire at the Nantyglo site in January 2013, alerting officers from Environment Agency Wales (now Natural Resources Wales) about a possible breach of environmental permits.
The levels of waste were not in excess of A Lewis Waste and Skip Hire Limited’s permit at the time, but the company was later served an enforcement notice in December 2013, with 23 formal complaints made about the 4,000 tonnes of waste, some of which was hazardous, of the course of 2013/14.
Despite official warnings, Lewis continued to breach his company’s environmental permit, leading to his imprisonment.