£5mn Ecuador mining investment fraudster faces jail

£5mn Ecuador mining investment fraudster faces jail
Photo: Jimmy Chan via Pexels

A corrupt stockbroker who ran an investment scam promising huge returns from a gold mine in Ecuador is facing jail.

More than 300 investors sank over £5mn into the project over an 18 month period, Southwark Crown Court has heard.

Stephen Todd, 41, masterminded the swindle through a company called IPR Capital Ltd which sold partnerships in a gold mining company in Ecuador as investments.

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Todd and financial analyst Steven Mayne, 42, admitted conspiracy to defraud, while David Williams, 41, and John Andrews, 54, admitted converting criminal property.

Walton Hornsby, prosecuting, said the case concerned a "fraudulent investment scheme involving a gold mine in Ecuador".

He said 344 investors ploughed £5.4mn into the project, between May 2013 and January 2015 and "practically all of this was lost.

"Stephen Todd and Steven Mayne were the creators of the scheme and its principal beneficiaries.

"John Andrews and David Williams joined later. Whether from its inception, or later, they were all knowing participants in a fraudulent enterprise."

Hornsby said some of the investors were subject to "coercion and intimidation" during the scam.

Todd was disqualified from being a company director for 10 years in 2017 for unfit conduct while running a series of disreputable firms in the City, including White Square Investments and Hamilton Bentley.

He was jailed for seven years for "carrying on a business with intent to defraud creditors" at Croydon Crown Court in 2018.

A year later, he received a consecutive sentence of 12 months imprisonment for a scam involving The Commodities Link Limited, which offered investments in rare earth metals.

Mayne, had no previous convictions, and had published articles in the financial press as well making TV appearances.

He worked in the City as a regulated broker and had his own firm called EGR Broking Ltd, which has ceased trading.

Andrews was a former NCO in the British Army who has also admitted dealing in a "large quantity of MDMA".

He was described as "a close friend and business acquaintance to Stephen Todd for more than eight years".

But Mayne’s lawyer, Roderick Johnson, KC, said: "Mr Mayne and his partner had a young daughter in May. He is not the same man he was 10 years ago when this happened.

"He is ashamed to have been involved in a matter that caused fraudulent activity to so many people.

"He now teaches special needs children. The very fact of a conviction may make that work difficult to continue, but he will never go back to the Square Mile city life he had before.

"He went into this with good intentions. He was offered the opportunity to come in and do research and marketing.

"From then on he was under the direction of Mr Todd, whose venture this really was, he was his boss, Mr Mayne was an employee in the circumstances talked about".

The lawyer continued: "Mr Mayne is desperate to get on with his life as a father and respectable member of society. He will never go back to financial world and he will never, regardless of today, appear before a court again.