Three former directors have been jailed for a total of 28 years for their part in a £23m fraud which promoted biofuel investments to UK investors.
On Friday, Gary West, James Whale and Stuart Stone were convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to furnish false information, fraudulent trading and Bribery Act offences.
It followed a Serious Fraud Office investigation into Sustainable Growth Group and its subsidiaries Sustainable AgroEnergy and Sustainable Wealth Investments.
In a sentence hearing at Southwark Crown Court today, West – former director and chief commercial officer of Sustainable AgroEnergy – was sentenced to 13 years in jail.
Whale, former chief executive of Sustainable Growth Group, was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment.
Stone, director of SJ Stone – a sales agent of unregulated pension and investment products – was sentenced to six years in jail.
West and Whale were disqualified from being a director for 15 years while Stone was disqualified for 10 years.
The investigation focused on the selling and promotion of Sustainable AgroEnergy investment products based on “green biofuel” Jatropha tree plantations in Cambodia.
The products were sold to around 1,500 UK investors who invested primarily via self-invested pension plans.
Handing down the sentence, the judge described the fraud as a “quagmire of dishonesty”, noting many of the victims were of modest means and had lost their life savings and homes.