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Suspended sentences for 2.5m fraudsters

Two financial advisers have been ordered to pay a total of 250,000 compensation and given suspended jail sentences for their part in a 2.5m fraud scandal in Northern Ireland.

David Mahood, 64, of North Down, Northern Ireland and Julian Cuzner Charles, 51, of Berkshire had pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud in a hearing at Belfast Crown Court.

Both men were ordered to pay 125,000 to the investors they defrauded.

They were also given jail terms of three years each, which were suspended for two years, and were both suspended from being company directors for seven years.

The court heard that up to 160 investors had lost a total of 2.5m. Regal Brook and later Atrium Trading were set up in the early 1990s as a merchant financing or factoring operation, the court was told.

The company specifically sought out small investors to put in between 10,000-30,000 and they were told they could make up to 20 per cent profit a year without risk.

In 1999, the two companies went into liquidation and the FSA and then the RUC fraud squad and finally the Serious Fraud Office became involved.

Detective Superinten-dent Derek McLoughlin from the PSNI’s economic crime unit told the court: “The people who lost money were small inv-estors, this was not a sch-eme which targeted big corporate investors and insurance companies. It was aimed at the average person who had a relatively modest sum to invest over a short period of time.

“In some instances, it was their life savings everything they had. In one or two instances it was money which had been awarded by a court for people who had industrial accidents and the money was intended to maintain them for the rest of their lives.”

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