One of the longest prison sentences imposed against a UK financial services professional in recent years is the eight-year term handed to a Merseyside-based financial adviser just before Christmas 2018.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the individual was supposedly investing monies in pension funds and other vehicles on behalf of 24 clients, which included his immediate family and close friends. However, the monies had in fact gone into his personal sole trader account, where they were used to fund a lifestyle that included stock market gambling, luxury hotels, jet-setting and sex workers.

The adviser pleaded guilty to 14 counts of fraud and asked for a further 14 offences to be considered. In total, he stole £4.5 million, with one client losing as much as £600,000, equivalent to her entire retirement fund. A company lost £1.5 million at the hands of this individual. In at least one case, he held Power of Attorney for an elderly victim of his conduct.

Merseyside Police commenced investigating the adviser after receiving numerous reports from Action Fraud.

Passing sentence, Judge Alan Conrad QC said:

“You were gambling away a large part of the money entrusted to you, while maintaining a playboy lifestyle with expensive prostitutes and luxury foreign travel. You even boasted in messages to people of the debauched life that you were living.”

Detective Sergeant Christopher Hawitt of Merseyside Police said:

“We welcome the sentencing of [name of individual] and hope that he will now spend the considerable future thinking about the consequences of his actions.

“It is never nice for anyone to fall victim to fraud but this was a particularly unpleasant case for [name of individual]’s victims as some of them had known him for over 50 years and so trusted him with, in some cases, their life savings.

“They are now forced to pick up the pieces of their lives but many have been left without the financial nest egg which was rightfully theirs and which they worked for many years to earn. In fact some of his victims, who have worked all their lives, are faced with the prospect of having to return to work.”

Clearly this is a serious case of fraud and mis-appropriation of client money. However, all firms that handle client money need to make sure they have appropriate safeguards in place. Client money must be held in dedicated bank accounts and not used for any other purpose, even if the firm is at risk of failure.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article