A fraudster has been jailed for over two years after he took almost £100,000 to start a new forest – but didn’t plant a single TREE.
Pritesh Ladwa, 29, lived a Champagne lifestyle and has been pictured at glamorous locations around the world on social media.
The self-styled entrepreneur was handed a £98,000 grant to start a community forest at the former Orgreave colliery site in Waverley, South Yorks.
But he was rumbled when two officers from the Forestry Commission visited the land and found no trees.
Ladwa, of Yardley, Birmingham, was convicted of fraud after a trial and was jailed for 27 months at Birmingham Crown Court.
The court heard Ladwa won the grant from the English Woodland Grant Scheme which is run by the Forestry Commission to create new woods for the public to enjoy.
The fraudster said the work had been done in March 2014 but later claimed the site had been targeted by vandals.
Prosecutor Daniel Oscroft told the jury: “There was no forest where a forest should have been.
“They found no evidence that trees had ever been planted or any evidence that vandalism had taken place.
“The place had not even been cleared for the planting of trees.
“There was no forest where a forest should have been. This was the fraud.
“Ladwa had lied to the Forestry Commission by saying he had completed the work.”
The court heard there was evidence Ladwa had ordered and stored trees at other sites but he had not used them at Waverley.He claimed he had planted some trees with a friend and said migrant workers had been paid cash-in-hand to plant the rest.
But Mr Oscroft said: “The fact is two experienced officers went to the site.
“The work was never done.
“They have seen it with their own eyes.”
Ladwa describes himself as “entrepreneur, traveller and bon vivant” on Facebook and says he is an “acerbic aesthete with architectural hair”.
Pictures posted online show him wearing sunglasses and smiling on a yacht in Hawaii, swimming with a dolphin and posing in front of a waterfall in Iceland.
Ladwa, who says he is the CEO or director of several companies, has also posed for a photo with a sign saying “Wine o’clock”.