Harlequin chair’s son jailed for fraudulent trading

Matthew Ames, son of Harlequin chairman David Ames, has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for conning investors out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

According to the City of London Police, Mr Ames from Benfleet, Essex, was convicted of two counts of fraudulent trading following a two-year investigation and on Friday (21 March) was sentenced to over three years of jail time at Isleworth Crown Court.

Between 2008 and 2010, Mr Ames used his companies The Investor Club Limited and Forestry for Life Limited to tempt investors with the promise of high returns on what were marketed as ethical, environmentally friendly investments.

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Police said detectives found no evidence that any land or trees had been bought, or that any capital had been invested in the carbon credit markets.

Instead Mr Ames used £1.5m in investor money to pay company costs and fund a lavish lifestyle.

To create the impression of success, funds taken from later investors were used to pay-out around £100,000 to his early victims similar to the typical ‘Ponzi’ style fraud.

Last year (19 August), Mr Ames was disqualified as a director for 13 years due to causing investor liabilities of almost £1.3m in relation to his two companies.

The investigation into Mr Ames’ activities came to light after it was leaked to a local newspaper by former regulator the Financial Services Authority.