Ed Rimmer was convicted of 17 charges

A boat hire boss from Worcestershire appeared in court on Tuesday and was convicted of 18 fraud-related charges concerning the operating of two charter companies.

Charles Edward Rimmer, known as Ed Rimmer, aged 65 of Sheriffs Lench near Evesham, appeared at Hereford Crown Court and pleaded guilty to:

3 counts of fraud by abuse of position of trust
8 counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception
3 counts of false accounting
4 counts of theft

Another 17 charges brought against Rimmmer were laid on file and there is no intention at this time to prosecute him for these offences.

Rimmer was arrested on 2 June 2010, questioned by detectives in relation to his business activities and charged on Tuesday 14 September. He was convicted of fraud amounting to £536,000, but officers believe there is a potential fraud of £2.5 million.

Rimmer owned and ran two boating businesses: he was a Partner at Challenger Syndicateships, which managed canal boat ownership syndicates, and a Director of Challenger Syndicateships Limited, which organised syndicates for powerboats and yachts.

Challenger Syndicateships was set up by Rimmer in 1989 and owned narrow boats across the UK and France. The syndicates worked in a similar way to time share properties, where a number of people shared the ownership of the boat and shared the time spent holidaying on the boat.

Each boat cost in the region of £80,000 – £90,000 with an average of 13 parties sharing each boat with a share costing a maximum of £12,000. Challenger Syndicateships would take a proportion of the amount paid by each party as well as an annual management fee to cover servicing and other expenses, such as insurance licences.

In 2003, he branched out into powerboats and yachts operating out of Spain, which managed boats costing around £500,000 and a share would on average cost £75,000.

Both companies operated until January 2008 when both businesses went into administration.

It was at this point that Rimmer’s operation was revealed as illegal. He had been committing fraud in a number of ways, most notably:

  • In 2004, Challenger Syndicateships started buying older boats from syndicates and source a new one for them, using the older boats as hire boats for holidaymakers. The purchase capital was invested by sponsors (individuals or local businesses) who in return got around 10% interest on their investment capital. It was found that Mr Rimmer had offered sponsorship of the same boats to two and even three different parties, each time taking a lump sum of up to £90,000. When Challenger Syndicateships when into administration, up to three owners expected to have ‘their’ boat returned to them.
  • Rimmer would utilise the maintenance fees paid for one boat in order to pay debts due on other vessels. He would thereafter produce false accounts to disguise this activity giving the impression that the maintenance funds for each boat were healthy when in fact the contrary was often true.