Guilty verdicts in £10m fraud trial
Three people involved in a fraud that targeted UK investors and ex-pats in Majorca have been convicted. Guilty verdicts have been returned at Bradford Crown Court on two of them. Another had already pleaded guilty prior to trial. Two individuals were acquitted of related money laundering charges.
John Hirst, 61, (who admitted guilt) and Richard Pollett, 70, were the main architects and operators of the “Ponzi” fraud. Linda Hirst, 62, was complicit through money laundering. Between 2001 to 2009 John Hirst and Richard Pollett were involved in the operation of a “Ponzi scheme” trading as Gilher Inc where, instead of being used to achieve promised growth on the US stock market, investors’ money was diverted to support the fraudsters’ own lifestyles. The Gilher scheme attracted £10 million. Around £5 million is calculated to have been siphoned off.
Investigation and proceedings summary
The SFO investigation commenced in November 2009 following a complaint by an investor. Working with the SFO on the investigation were the police forces of West Yorkshire and of Surrey. The defendants were charged on various dates during March to July 2011. Pollett was extradited from Spain.
John Hirst pleaded guilty ahead of trial. The trial of the other 4 defendants opened at Bradford Crown Court on 18 June 2012 with HHJ Jonathan Durham-Hall QC presiding. The jury retired on 6 August to consider their verdicts which were all returned by today.
Sentencing will take place on 31 August. Confiscation and compensation proceedings are to follow.