Boiler room fraudsters sentenced to 40 years

The seven men found guilty of an £8m boiler room fraud were sentenced to a total of 40 years at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

The Spanish-based operation targeted thousands of investors in the UK through high pressure telesales techniques to push shares in Worldwide Bio Refineries, a bio-diesel investment company.

Dennis Potter, who lived in Singapore, and Redmond Charles Johnson, were both directors of WBR, which was formed in 2003. Potter has been sentenced to seven years, while Johnson, who pleaded guilty and offered to assist in the investigation under the SOPCA agreement, has been sentenced to three years. Both have been banned from acting as company directors for the next 12 years.

Steven Murphy and Greg Pearson, who are both based in Marbella, have been sentenced to six years imprisonment. Paul Murphy and Lee Homan, both based in Hertfordshire, were sentenced to six years and five years and six months imprisonment respectively.

Peter Bibby of south London absconded and was tried and sentenced in absentia to six years imprisonment. The court has issued a warrant for his arrest.

WBR had a processing plant in Co. Durham that was purported to produce diesel fuel from vegetable matter. It also had a plant in Singapore producing diesel intended to be marketed in the UK.

Following a trial, the six defendants were convicted by a jury on September 12, another pleaded guilty at the start of trial on June 6.

In passing sentence, HHJ Overbury of the High Court said: “This was a well planned, sophisticated, and well executed fraud dressed up in the language of legitimate business.  It involved deliberate targeting of a particular group of investors.  The directors actions amount to a breach of trust of the investors. They had a long lasting effect on the victims who lost their savings.”