SINGAPORE - Two British men have been sentenced to jail over an investment scheme that they got clients to pour money into, with ill-fated promises of good and quick returns.
Investors in the Boron scheme, offered by land- banking firm Profitable Plots between November 2008 and August 2010, were told that sums invested would yield 12.5 per cent in returns within six months.
But they lost some $3.1 million after a chunk of the money ended up being used to pay for the firm's existing obligations instead. After some time, these included those owed to clients in the scheme itself.
Yesterday, firm directors Timothy Nicholas Goldring, 60, and John Andrew Nordmann, 55, were convicted on 18 charges of cheating after a 64-day joint trial that began in April last year.
They were sentenced to jail terms of seven and eight years respectively, over investors' losses of some $915,000. Both said they will appeal.
However, a third Profitable Plots director - Nordmann's wife, Singaporean Geraldine Anthony Thomas, 46 - was cleared of 18 charges, after the court found no evidence to suggest she was involved in the relevant sales.
Delivering his decision to a courtroom packed mainly with investors, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt accepted the prosecution's case that investors involved in these charges had been deceived and told their money would finance only the purchase of the product advertised - Boron CLS bonds. They had also been conned into thinking major corporations had already agreed to buy the products.
The judge found that Goldring and Nordmann had knowingly authorised, facilitated and promoted the false representations, without which the investors would not have committed their money. Thomas, on the other hand, had played no role in making or authorising the statements.
He accepted an expert witness' evidence that the scheme was not economically viable and was unable to meet its obligations to investors.
Securities Investors Association of Singapore president and chief executive David Gerald told The Straits Times justice had been done, adding: "Retail investors who invested in Profitable Plots have suffered for so long and lost a lot of money. Let it be a lesson to other like-minded criminals."
When it was set up here in 2004, Profitable Plots was known for its TV commercials, which featured former professional footballers urging viewers to "buy UK land".
It came to the attention of the authorities in 2010 when angry clients stormed its offices demanding what they claimed were overdue payouts.
The trio, whose lawyers were discharged towards the end of the trial, represented themselves in court yesterday. Goldring and Nordmann declined further comment after the hearing.
A pre-trial conference has been fixed on July 7 for 68 remaining counts still outstanding for each of the three. They could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in jail and fined on each count of cheating they faced.
This article was first published on June 10, 2014.
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