18 May 2022

Fraud accused could have bail revoked after approaching Scottish councillors for investment

Police presented alleged new information at Magherafelt Magistrates Court yesterday.

Fraud accused could have bail revoked after approaching Scottish councillors for investment

A 51-year-old man who is facing 147 fraud-related charges could face having his bail revoked after police uncovered alleged new information about his recent business activities.

Paul Dougan, of Hughenden Gardens, Glasgow, Scotland, had been on bail while awaiting charges relating to a fraudulent renewable energy imitative in the Mid Ulster area.

He is further accused of acquiring, concealing and entering an arrangement to acquire criminal property.

Dougan was arrested in 2019 by detectives from the PSNI's economic crime unit investigating alleged offences between 2011 and 2016.

The investigation involved investments and property arrangements worth up to £8 million in total.

Dougan had previously had his bail conditions varied to allow him to be based in Scotland, where defence said he is currently caring for his seriously ill wife.

With bail due to be reviewed, a police constable at Magherafelt Magistrates Court yesterday gave details of the defendant's alleged involvement in an investment scheme in Scotland, contrary to existing bail conditions.

The court heard how Dougan, using his original family name of Paul Hilton, approached a number of East Ayrshire councillors about an investment proposal relating to an unoccupied building in Scotland.

Statements given by the councillors said Dougan, claiming to be the founder of renewable energy company Solar 2 Food, had approached them seeking £25,000 for help with legal fees.

The defendant's proposal is thought to centre on a building previously occupied by a Chinese national. After his death, the building transferred to his family, who have since returned to China.

East Ayrshire Council had expressed an interest in developing the building to aid the local economy and had attempted to contact the family.

The court heard Dougan's intention was to develop the property under the guidance of the council, and claimed he had investment lined up from Scotland, England and China.

Bail conditions prohibit Dougan from becoming involved in any investment schemes while awaiting trial. He is listed on the Solar 2 Food website as the company's founder and Chief Technical Officer.

Defence for Dougan said the Oxford graduate had travelled to Northern Ireland to attend court, and had been keeping up with the conditions of his bail.

The court heard the defendant had been signing at the police station daily while also caring for his wife, who is currently undergoing radiotherapy treatment for cancer.

They said there was a need to cross-examine the witnesses in the case, and that Dougan could not be remanded in custody while a breach of bail was being contested.

After rising to consider the papers, District Judge Oonagh Mullan adjourned the matter until June 9 for review.

She told the court that because no official breach of bail application had yet been officially lodged with the court, the matter would need to be adjourned to allow this to happen.

The court requested that Dougan remain in Northern Ireland until the case comes before the court again next week.

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