Wed, 07 Mar 2012
Two businessmen have been cleared of deceiving hundreds of victims out of £115m in Britain's biggest "Ponzi" investment scam.
John Anderson and Kenneth Peacock were found not guilty of recklessly making a misleading, false or deceptive promise.
On Monday, the pair were convicted at Southwark Crown Court of unauthorised regulated activity in a scheme masterminded by Kautilya Nandan Pruthi.
Jurors also cleared them of one count each of fraud.
Pruthi, 41, from Wandsworth, south-west London, was described as a career fraudster who persuaded nearly 800 people to invest.
He was said to have claimed their enterprises made short-term high profit loans to importers and exporters.
But the funds were instead used to fund lavish lifestyles including luxury homes, supercars and flights in private jets.
A Ponzi scheme describes one in which returns to investors come from money paid by subsequent investors rather than any profits.
The former cricketer Darren Gough and actor Jerome Flynn were among the victims.
Aided by Anderson, 46, from West Hampstead, north-west London, and Peacock, 43, from Camberley, Surrey, Pruthi made £38m from the swindle over three years.
Of a total loss to victims estimated at more than £115m, it is thought less than £2m could be returned to investors.
Prosecutor David Aaronberg QC said Pruthi, a father of one, was believed to be the UK's most successful Ponzi fraudster.
He said: "The scale of this scheme was vast and the losses were immense. Several investors lost their homes, others have been declared bankrupt."
The trio were arrested in May 2009 after City of London police launched a nationwide investigation into Ponzi fraud. They were all made bankrupt after their arrests.
Before the trial, Pruthi pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to four specimen counts of obtaining money transfers by deception, one count of participating in a fraudulent business, one count of unauthorised regulated activity and one count of converting and removing criminal property.
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