British trio jailed over £80m investment fraud

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Three British men behind an £80m investment fraud which targeted UK investors have been jailed in the US for a total of 43 years.

At least 2,300 UK investors, mostly retired professionals, lost money to the boiler room fraud, with individual losses ranging from a few hundred pounds up to £1m. Many victims lost all their savings.

Richard Pope, Paul Gunter and Simon Odoni were sentenced at a Florida court yesterday following a seven year international investigation involving the City of London Police, US law enforcement agencies, the Serious Fraud Office, Spanish National Police and Norfolk Police.

In 2004 the trio acquired previously hijacked dormant, public traded companies in the US which they used to sell UK investors worthless stock.

A network of Spanish boiler rooms was also used to target investors with high pressure sales tactics.

The stolen money funded extravagant lifestyles including a £350,000 private jet, 26 properties in the US and three in the Dominican Republic, and a number of high value cars and speed boats.

The City of London Police linked a number of investigations in the UK to those being carried out by federal agencies in the US.

In March 2009 the US Attorney’s Office charged seven defendants, including Pope, Odoni and Gunter with offences including money laundering and mail and wire fraud.

Pope pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in March 2011, and testified against his fellow gang members in March 2013. Both men were found guilty in April.

One man committed suicide after losing a total of more than £200,000, including £70,000 to this gang. His widow testified against the gang.

Detective Inspector Kerrie Gower, who led the investigation for the City of London Police, said: “Pope, Gunter and Odoni are among the most arrogant, ruthless and destructive criminals the City of London Police has ever dealt with and deserve every day they will spend behind bars in the US.

“Unfortunately this sentencing will not repair the huge damage they caused to the lives of thousands of people who were simply looking for a safe place to invest their money, but hopefully it will bring a measure of comfort and a sense of closure to those caught up in what was fraud committed on a truly significant scale.”

Gunter was sentenced to 25 years in prison, Odoni was sentenced to 13 years and four months, and Pope was sentenced to four years and nine months.