Vintage Hallmark director Richard Gunter has been jailed for four-and-a-half years for his role in a £30m investment fraud.
In the final case in a series of frauds, including wine investments, the firm Vintage Hallmark was accused of running a £30m ‘Ponzi’ investment scam.
In September 2008 four defendants, including Gunter, were convicted at Southwark Crown Court for their involvement in a similar fraudulent investment business, Vintage Wines of St.Albans. Reporting restrictions have been applied to Gunter until now.
The jury have been unable to reach an agreement on the role of fellow Hallmark Vintage director Robin Grove following a six-week trial. The Crown court is not seeking a re-trial.
In the Vintage Hallmark case, Richard Gunter admitted he dishonestly obtained money from individuals mainly based in the USA and Canada using investment programmes based on various alcohol products.
The investments were sold through a UK based partnership known as The Hallmark Partnership and later through a number of UK based companies controlled by the directors, including Vintage Hallmark plc (based in Peterborough initially and later in Luton). This investment scheme was similar in nature to that of a “Ponzi” scheme wherein investors are promised high returns and are lured into investing money.
Nearly £30 million of investors’ monies was obtained. Had it been a genuine business and had it delivered to investors – over 300 of them – what it claimed could be achieved, the £30 million was projected to have become £100 million.
Gunter alone withdrew in excess of a million pounds from the business for his own benefit throughout the lifespan of the schemes. He spent this money to buy and lease luxury cars, personalised car registration plates and invest in shares.
SFO director Richard Alderman says: “I am pleased with the outcome of the three linked cases. Over the past few years the SFO has successfully prosecuted a number of individuals connected with these frauds. This brings a close to past wrong-doing. But the SFO is keen to prevent the public from further criminal acts and this is why we apply for serious crime prevention orders wherever appropriate.”