An Australian businessman has been found guilty of defrauding British investors out of more than £70m in the biggest ever boiler room scam.
Jeffrey Revell-Reade, 49, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud after masterminding a scheme in which more than 1,000 investors were sold shares in companies that did not exist. He was alleged by the Serious Fraud Office to have made £70m running the scheme – codenamed Operation Steamroller by the SFO – from offices in Madrid from 2003-2007.
Revell-Reade, who was found not guilty of one count of corruption at Southwark crown court, spent his share of the takings on a lavish lifestyle that stretched to several luxury homes, yachts, private jets and art and vintage wine collections. Among his £72,000 art collection were two Rolf Harris works.
David Green, director of the SFO, said: "Over 1,000 UK investors were defrauded by these criminals, who caused substantial financial damage and hardship. The victims were deliberately charmed, lied to and bullied, whatever it took to make them send their money to these criminals. The profits from this fraudulent scheme were used to fund lavish lifestyles featuring numerous overseas properties, wine collections, luxury yachts and private jet hire.
"The convictions mark the culmination of seven years' hard work by a dedicated team of investigators, lawyers and accountants at the SFO, and close work with other agencies. This case illustrates that key attributes required in an SFO investigation are determination and persistence, qualities necessary to follow the complex money flows and elaborate company structures in numerous jurisdictions."
Anthony May, 58, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud for his role distributing the shares to investors and managing offshore bank accounts to distribute the funds obtained as part of the conspiracy. The men will be sentenced on Friday. Robert Manning, 63, from Leeds, was acquitted of one charge of corruption.
Six people who ran the boiler rooms in Madrid were earlier sentenced to between three and seven years in prison for their role in the conspiracy. They were convicted in May 2013, but restrictions preventing the reporting of their convictions were only lifted on the outcome of Wednesday's trials. The six are Daniel Gooding, 39, of Brentwood; Shaun Rumsey, 33, of Basildon; Jon Emery, 36, of Romford; Ian Hughes, 34, of Hainault; Emma Farmer, 41, of Brentwood, all in Essex; and Philip Morris, 38, from Biddenden, Kent.
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