Three convicted over £10m Ponzi scheme
Scheme claiming to invest in US stock market in fact used investor money to fund fraudsters’ lifestyles.
Two men and one woman involved in a £10m Ponzi scheme targeting UK investors and ex-pats in Majorca have been convicted at the Bradford Crown Court.
According to the Serious Fraud Office, the two men, John Hirst, 61, and Richard Pollett, 70, set up the scheme and between 2001 and 2009 they traded as Gilher Incorporated, which promised investors growth from investments in the US stock market. Instead the money was used to fund a lavish lifestyle.
The woman, Linda Hirst, 62, helped by laundering money. Two other defendants, Daniel Hirst and Zoe Waite, were acquitted of related money laundering charges.
The scheme raked in about £10m, around half of which was siphoned off.
Following a complaint by an investor, SFO launched an investigation in November 2009, working with the police forces of West Yorkshire and Surrey. The defendants were charged between March and July 2011, with Mr Pollett having to be extradited from Spain.
Mr Hirst, of West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty before the trial to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and two counts of money laundering. Mr Pollett, of Majorca and Poole, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Linda Hirst, of Surrey, was found guilty of three counts of money laundering, and one count of evading a liability by deception.
Sentencing will take place on 31 August.