Four men who pressured hundreds of investors into buying worthless “rare earth metals” have been jailed today (Thu 11 May).
Christopher Sabin, 46, Tobias Ridpath, 52, William Berkeley, 53, and Nicholas Start, 36, were convicted of fraud offences following a trial at Blackfriars Crown Court.
The trial heard how the group operated in two companies under the names “Denver Trading” and advertised an investment opportunity in rare earth elements.
The sales were made through a series of brokers, including a company called London Commodity Market which had offices in Canary Wharf and of whom Start was the sole director.
The men convinced investors to part with their money – often five-figure sums – but in fact the returns being promised never materialised as there is no viable market for resale. In total investors paid more than £7million to the fraudsters.
Naheed Hussain, from the CPS, said:
“These men deliberately and persistently targeted hundreds of members of the public through high-pressure selling of commodities which in reality had no resale potential. Their actions caused significant financial hardship to their victims, some of whom lost their life savings.
“The CPS worked with the police to analyse the complex financial evidence and build a compelling case, resulting in the guilty verdicts returned by the jury.”
Notes to Editors
· Naheed Hussain is Deputy Head of the CPS Specialist Fraud Division
· All four defendants were convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud.
· The sentences passed by the judge at Blackfriars Crown Court were as follows:
Christopher Sabin – 9 years’ imprisonment, 15-year director disqualification order
Tobias Ridpath – 9 years’ imprisonment, 15-year director disqualification order
Nicholas Start - 7 years’ imprisonment, 10-year director disqualification order
William Berkeley – 4 years’ imprisonment, 6-year director disqualification order