Directors of commercial brokerage acquitted after eight-year investigation of £253m fraud

Directors of commercial brokerage acquitted after eight-year investigation of £253m fraud




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Two directors of a commercial investment group, Jared Brook, 39, and Lincoln Fraser, 37, have been acquitted of conspiracy to defraud after an eight-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

The third director, William Godley, 41, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud earlier in the trial and will be sentenced on August 2.
 
Imperial Consolidated Group operated under the banner ‘Imperial’ from 1998-2002. The company purported to invest money from overseas businessmen into the UK commercial lending market with the promise of high rates of return.
 
However, a complicated and lengthy investigation by the SFO found less than half of the investors’ money was loaned out by the UK loan businesses.
 
The SFO report says that, the money was channelled in overheads and expenses instead – as well as “extremely speculative mining interests which the investors knew nothing about.” 
 
The scheme was run from a former RAF site called Binbrook, in Lincolnshire, where, “sophisticated sales techniques, in less demanding regulatory environments, which induced money from investors”, were applied.
 
Investors were attracted and taken in by the schemes by the promise of high rates of return and the assurance that their capital was protected.
 
Imperial's glossy and professional brochures advertised the fact that investors' funds had the benefit of "total asset protection". 
 
What’s more, Imperial promised the investors their capital was insured when in fact the insurance that was in place protected the company and not the investors at all. The high rates of interest which were promised could only be supported as long as new investment was coming into the group.
 
The SFO said: “It was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul and was ultimately doomed to failure.”
 
The outcome, described by Richard Alderman as “disappointing both for the victims and the defendants”, raises further questions on whether juries should sit on such complicated fraud trails.
 
Mr Alderman said: “This case was a very complex one with many victims and it was clearly right for us to have taken this case and to have conducted the first retrial. 
 
“I have decided that it would not be right to apply for a second re-trial. Proceedings continue against Mr Godley who will be sentenced for the role he has admitted in this case.” 
 
The complex investigation saw over three million hard copy documents obtained and over 900 digital items (such as computer hard drives) reviewed.
 
 

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