Four defendants including a Chester man have been jailed for their part in a fraud totalling almost £160m.

Carl Cumiskey, of Eggbridge Lane, Chester, who worked for of H2O Networks Limited, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

He had been convicted by jury at Southwark Crown Court on two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud for which he received sentences of seven years and three years, to run consecutively.

Stephen Dartnell and George Alexander, of Total Asset Limited, trading as Total Asset Finance (TAF), were sentenced to 15 and 12 years respectively and Simon Mundy, who worked for KBC Lease (UK), was jailed for seven years.

Kerry Lloyd of TAF and Elfed Thomas of H2O were both acquitted.

The jury was told by counsel for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) that there was no dispute that fraud on a massive scale had occurred but the defendants denied involvement and, in the main, blamed each other.

Carl Cumiskey, from Chester, who has been jailed for 10 years after being convicted for his part in a £160m fraud.

Cumiskey, Dartnell and Alexander had conspired to create, sign and sell falsely inflated or entirely false contracts from the company H2O to business lenders, Barclays Bank and KBC.

H2O supplied fibre-optic internet cable connections and their unique selling point was to use sewers as channels for these internet cables. H2O targeted public institutions such as local authorities, universities, colleges and the NHS with long-term payment contracts.

Mundy was paid nearly £900,000 as an ‘inside man’ at KBC by Dartnell to approve the funding provided by KBC to TAF. Between 2007 and 2010 this fraud amounted to almost £160m.

His Honour Judge Gledhill QC said: “The evidence against each of you was compelling. Not one of you has accepted dishonest involvement in these offences. Of course, you have each accepted that with hindsight that fraud was committed, but have sought to exonerate yourselves. One of the least attractive aspects of the case has been the attempts of each of you to blame others, including each other, for what happened.”

The sentences came at the end of a trial lasting more than five months.

Director of the SFO, David Green CB QC said: “This was a carefully planned, complex and lucrative fraud which ran over three years. It took a determined investigation to ensure that those responsible for it were brought to justice. We will now turn our attention to securing confiscation of criminal assets from those convicted.”