Jailed "ponzi" businessman could face deportation
8:00am Saturday 10th March 2012 in Crime
A corrupt businessman who masterminded the UK's biggest Ponzi scam faces deportation after being jailed for more than 14 years.
Kautilya Pruthi, 41, of Wandsworth, admitted seven counts of fraud while John Anderson, 46, from West Hampstead, and Kenneth Peacock, 43, from Guildford, were jailed for 18 months each for unlawfully accepting deposits from investors.
His victims, who included actor Jerome Flynn and cricketer Darren Gough, were duped out of £115m with some losing homes, pensions and life savings.
Judge Michael Gledhill QC said: "You (Pruthi) are an extremely intelligent, articulate, sophisticated and plausible liar. In short, a professional fraudster."
Pruthi, who was told he qualified for automatic deportation after his release from prison, made £38m from the swindle over three years, the court heard.
Det Supt Bob Wishart said: "Pruthi used fast cars, helicopters and luxury houses to create an illusion of success and legitimacy.
"In reality he was a cold-hearted criminal driven by greed, with an unquenchable desire to steal and spend leading to the construction and collapse of the UK's biggest Ponzi scheme.
"It took a complex and painstaking investigation over several years to blow away all the smoke screens and ensure Pruthi faced justice."
Ponzi schemes offer investors high returns over a short period of time, paid for through their own money and by subsequent investors rather than real profits.
The fraud was named after Italian immigrant Carlos Ponzi who set up schemes in Boston and Florida in the 1920s.
The rest of the money is used to fund the lifestyles of the criminals but the fund collapses when people stop joining or too many existing members withdraw funds.
When Pruthi's scheme collapsed in 2008, 800 people were owed more than £115m, with some investors losing their life savings.
Victims included people who have invested their savings in the scheme in order to make money to care for their disabled children.
The three defendants' assets, including paintings, jewellery and cars, are to be sold off.
They were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.