A REAL-life Wolf of Wall Street conman has been jailed for tricking British investors out of £4.5million to pay for his “lavish” and “extravagant” lifestyle.
Former Manhattan trader Ian Richards, 64, lost millions of pounds of unsuspecting UK investors’ savings and used them to buy his wife expensive jewellery, horses and sports cars.
Richards spent the 1980s as a trader in New York and claimed to have worked for Chase Manhattan Bank before returning to Britain to study for a doctorate in economics.
A court heard he persuaded food millionaire entrepreneur Jeff Archer to invest an original £10million into a fund managed by his company Nairic Investment Management and immediately began reporting impressive returns.
The former owner of M&J Seafood was impressed and agreed to invite members of Oxfordshire Golf Club to invest money in the fund.
Christine Thomas, an old friend of Richards, invested the minimum amount of £10,000 which she was later told had grown to £23,000.
In reality, Richards’ shady business was racking up catastrophic losses as a result of taking huge investment risks, the court heard.
As part of an agreement to his investors, Richards would send regular statements showing the money he had made or lost.
On one occasion he made a 76 per cent loss but instead reported a 1.4 per cent increase.
He told his investors he would only pay himself a percentage of profits made from trading and not charge any of them for his company’s service.
But Richards, of Longdon Heath, Worcester, was paying for his and his wife’s “extravagant” lifestyle by dipping in to the fund for at least two years.
He owned a fleet of cars including marques by Aston Martin, Audi and Land Rover, and kept four horses for his wife, Christine.
He spent £65,000 of his investors’ money on two horses, £48,000 on fine wine, £18,000 on jewellery for his wife and also used the money to pay the £3,250-per-month rent on his country home in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, over two years.
Richards’ losing streak continued and in 2011 he finally lost what was left of the cash and was declared bankrupt.
Outraged investors contacted Gwent Police who launched a three-year inquiry charging him with fraud in May 2014.
Richards at first denied the fraud before pleading guilty in July this year.
Prosecutor Mr Evans said the total amount lost was £4.5m and: “£2.6m of that shortfall would correspond with his lifestyle expenditure.”
Richard Evans, defending, said: “Mr Richards tried to trade his way out of difficulty but the losses spoke for themselves. He’s destroyed himself and he’s sorry.”
Judge Tom Crowther sentenced Richards, now of Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire, to six years in jail.
The judge said: “Your investors were reassured by your ethos and your reputation. But you stole from your investors for greed.”
DC Michelle Morris, of Gwent Police’s fraud squad, said: “I hope that sentence will be of some comfort to the victims involved, and a reminder to those who engage in this type of criminal activity that this is the kind of outcome they can expect.”
In the 2013 movie Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio starred with Margot Robbie as the share-dealing conman Jordan Belfort who was jailed for 22 months after conning investors into buying worthless penny shares in the 1980s and 1990s.