Norfolk brothers bought private boat and expensive cars as they defrauded investors of millions of pounds
PUBLISHED: 11:04 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:24 07 March 2018
Two financial advisors admitted on Tuesday to defrauding more than 200 investors out of £17m through a high-risk investment scheme designed to line their own pockets.
Norfolk brothers Alan and Russell Taylor carried out the scam on investors through their Hoveton companies Taylor and Taylor Associates and Vantage Investment Group.
The brothers fraudulently produced client records and misrepresented documents and persuaded the clients of the established family business, who were often elderly and vulnerable, to give them access to their pension funds.
On average each client lost almost half of their total pension funds and some were forced to get jobs again to make up for the losses.
Prosecutors said the Taylors designed the scam to “line their own pockets” and they gambled their clients’ futures “on the spin of a roulette wheel”.
The brothers were each originally charged in 2016 with seven counts of fraud, including conspiracy to defraud and fraud by abuse of position.
And at Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday, Alan Taylor, 38, of St Stephen’s, Norwich, admitted to the main charge - one count of conspiracy to defraud.
His brother Russell Taylor, 37, of Trunch Road, Mundesley, pleaded guilty to the same count.
The charge centres on investments handled between two of their businesses, Taylor and Taylor Associates and Vantage Investment Group between 2008 and 2015.
Around £17m of money from 239 investors was put from Taylor and Taylor Associates into a Vantage Investment fund without customers knowing it was a high risk fund - and that the brothers were the directors and shareholders in Vantage Investment.
Police said it was a “win-win” for the Taylors - if the investments paid off they would take 20 percent of the profits, while any losses were effectively funded by the client.
The scheme was also not regulated by watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
In 2015 several clients became concerned about the loss of their money and contacted Action Fraud, who passed the information on to Norfolk Police.
An investigation was launched but as the scale of the fraud became apparent, the case was passed to the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).
Detective Chief Inspector Liz Fernandes, from ERSOU, said: “The Taylor brothers greatly abused the trust their clients had in them and invested their hard-earned money into a high-risk investment scheme akin to a roulette wheel.
“All this was for their own personal gain - to fund their lavish lifestyle and tastes, with the brothers splashing out on purchases such expensive cars and even a private boat.
“I’m pleased that both men have pleaded guilty, saving the victims the further trauma of having to give evidence in court.”
Case officer Det Con Ian Webb said the con was a “disgusting breach of trust”.
“The Taylor brothers were relentless in obtaining access to more of their clients’ pension funds and savings in order to keep their scheme operating as it was helping fund a lifestyle that they otherwise could not afford,” he said.
Investors have managed to get some of their money back through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
The FSCS had paid out £3.4m to 119 customers by last year.
But some investors lost six-figure sums, including retirement savings built up for years.
The brothers will be sentenced in April and were released on bail.
Judge Anthony Bate warned them they faced a long prison sentence.
Liquidators, meanwhile, have been appointed at Taylor and Taylor Associates and Vantage Investment Group.
Anamarie Coomansingh, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Alan and Russell Taylor took over their father’s business and used his client lists to target victims who trusted them to invest their money wisely.
“The scheme they chose was not a surety to increase pension pots, as the Taylors told their victims, but was similar to gambling their clients’ futures on the spin of a roulette wheel.
“One victim unknowingly invested £200,000 in the scheme and was left with just over half of that amount.
“Others had to take up part-time jobs to help them through retirement as a result of the impact on their finances.
“The CPS was able to show that the advice given by the Taylors to their victims was anything but honest and was instead designed to line their own pockets.
“Faced with this, the defendants entered guilty pleas.”
• Were you affected by the fraud? You can contact our journalist Tom Bristow on 01603 772834 or on email firstname.lastname@example.org