Corrupt stockbroker, 41, who promised more than 300 investors huge returns for pouring £5.4m into South American gold mine avoids jail
- Stephen Todd offered shares in a mining company in Ecuador between 2013-15
- He has previous convictions for fraud and was fired from his job in 2017
- The court was told 344 people were persuaded to invest £5.4m in the project
A corrupt stockbroker who promised more than 300 investors huge returns for pouring £5.4million into a South American gold mine avoided jail today.
Stephen Todd, 41, masterminded the swindle through IPR Capital Ltd, offering shares in a mining company in Ecuador, Southwark Crown Court heard.
Todd has previous convictions for fraud and was disqualified from being a company boss for 10 years in 2017 for unfit conduct while running a series of disreputable firms in the City, including Square Investments and Hamilton Bentley.
He and financial analyst Steven Mayne, 42, both admitted conspiracy to defraud while David Williams, 41, and John Andrews, 54, admitted money laundering offences.
Corrupt stockbroker Stephen Todd, who promised more than 300 investors huge returns for pouring £5.4m into a South American gold mine, avoided jail today
The court was told 344 people were persuaded to invest £5.4m in the project between May 2013 and January 2015.
Todd and Mayne were both sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years.
Williams received a 12-month sentence suspended for two years.
Andrews, a former Army NCO currently serving a lengthy jail sentence for dealing MDMA, was jailed for 12 months.
Todd was also disqualified from being a company director for six years.
Walton Hornsby, prosecuting, said there had been ‘genuine intention’ to set up a ‘profitable and functioning gold mine’ in Equador and that they had hoped investors would have received a ‘substantial increase’.
But he added: ‘The reason the conspiracy came to an end was that in February 2015 the Insolvency Service shut it down as it was seen to be against the public interest.
‘Over time it was quite clear that this was not a viable investment.’
The court heard that workers in the gold mine had to be laid off before Christmas 2014.
Todd was previously jailed for seven years for ‘carrying on a business with intent to defraud creditors’ at Croydon Crown Court in 2018.
Anu Mohindru, KC, defending Todd, said he had ’embarked on a journey of self-reflection’ since his previous sentence, obtaining a higher education certificate in law, and had learned from his time in jail.
Todd co-founded ‘Inside People’, an organization aimed at securing employment for ex-offenders.
The defence said: ‘He is a true advocate for rehabilitation. It would have a profound negative impact if Stephen were sent to prison.’
Todd has previous convictions for fraud and was disqualified from being a company boss for 10 years in 2017 for unfit conduct
Retired nurse Geraldine Fitzgerald lost £13,000 in the scam and told Southwark Crown Court she had felt ‘sick and wobbly’ when she realised the truth.
She said: ‘I felt excited about the gold mining project. I had recently inherited a few thousand pounds from the death of my mother.
‘They gave the impression of being honest and open. It really touched all my buttons, all the things I care about. I trusted them.’
Ms Fitzgerald said she felt sick when she realised she had been conned: ‘I didn’t want to believe that such nice friendly people could be involved in scamming people like me.
‘The feeling of blankness lasted some time. I’m finding it difficult to relive this time.
‘I feel sick that I allowed them to get emotionally inside me. I feel very sad that I allowed money from my mother to be used in this way.’
She added: ‘I worked as a nurse in developing countries. I am now reliant on housing benefits and a state pension.
‘I put a lot into life. No one will pull me down or make me feel like a victim forever.’
Another investor that did not want to be named lost £71,000 and said: ‘It seems that the people behind the fraud were trying to line their own pockets’
Southwark Crown Court (pictured) heard 344 people were persuaded to invest £5.4million in the project between May 2013 and January 2015
‘They had little or no thought for the investors putting their money into the scheme.’
Judge Gregory Perrins said: ‘The entire investment was doomed to fail so that many people who had put their trust and so much of their lives in the project would suffer loss.
‘The greed involved meant it was doomed to fail. There is no doubt that this is a significant, sophisticated and prolonged fraud.
‘It is important to not lose sight of what this fraud is actually about. A large number of innocent people have had to endure the loss of their financial security, with all the loss and heart-break that that brings.
‘[This is] a story of dreams crushed, relationships torn apart. Bringing so much misery to the lives of so many.’
Todd, of Limehouse, east London, and Mayne, of Earl’s Court, admitted conspiracy to defraud.
Williams, of Minster-on-Sea, Kent, admitted converting criminal property between 19 May 2014 and 3 February 2015, namely £60,553, knowing or suspecting it to constitute or represent in whole or in part a person’s benefit from criminal conduct.
Andrews, of Greenhithe, Kent, admitted converting criminal property between June 14 and 30 2014, namely £60,000, knowing it to constitute and hold at least in part proceeds from criminal conduct.
Confiscation proceedings will now begin to recoup some of the money lost by victims of the fraud.
Source: Read Full Article