A crooked financial adviser who targeted wealthy expatriates in the Far East with a fake get-rich-quick scheme has been jailed for six years.
Con-man Alan Edwin Gardner raked in more than $800,000 with his phoney foreign currency trading scheme masterminded from a room in his Bromsgrove home.
The 41-year-old blew almost all of the money on a playboy lifestyle for himself and his friends and also bought a number of new cars, including a Jaguar.
But he was caught when genuine financial advisers working in South East Asia became suspicious of the scheme, which offered high yields for investments, and raised the alarm.
Gardner was found guilty at Worcester Crown Court on Monday of six counts of obtaining money by deception and four counts of false accounting.
Jailing Gardner for six years and disqualifying from acting as a company director for seven years, Judge Toby Hooper said he had “recklessly gambled” investors money.
Financial investigators are now studying Gardner’s finances to see whether they can confiscate any of his assets.
According to the Serious Fraud Office, some of the five investors, four Britons and one Canadian living in Indonesia, had lost their retirement nest eggs after falling for the scam which offered returns of 48 per cent per year.
One of the victims, who were all involved in the petro-chemical industry in the region, lost $357,000.
It is not clear how much any of them will be able to get back after investigators found only £97,000 remained.
Gardner created a fictitious foreign currency trading scheme, supposedly backed by the reputable Swiss bank UBS, after attracting them with claims of exclusive financial deals that were normally the preserve of institutional investors.
The promised yields were dazzling, designed to be irresistible when linked, falsely, to the involvement and supposed backing of a major City bank – UBS.
The Serious Fraud Office said Gardner had worked in financial services during 2001 and had a brief spell with an advisers’ firm in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, but did not complete his employment probationary period.
Gardner later returned to the UK when he set up the purported Aegis Forex Fund and by 2005 he was promoting it in Indonesia with false publicity material.
Investments were sent to bank accounts in Switzerland and UK controlled by Gardner and were withdrawn almost immediately.
The Serious Fraud Office said the pattern of withdrawals strongly suggested that Gardner had “no real intention” to invest on behalf of his clients.
The fraud unravelled in 2005 when other financial advisers operating in South East Asia contacted the bank, which reported the matter to the SFO in September 2005.
Working with officers from West Mercia Police, they raided Gardner’s Bromsgrove home and a parked Mitsubishi Warrior vehicle in November 2005, seizing computer equipment and documents.
In interview, he claimed to have been acting on the instructions of a Hong Kong-based investor but officers found no evidence of the man or any of the investments he claimed to have arranged.
He was charged by police in May last year and convicted after a three-week trial.