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Guilty verdicts in £45m investment fraud scheme

8 February, 2016 | News Releases

At Southwark Crown Court today two men were convicted of a conspiracy to defraud investors in a London-based Ponzi fraud scheme.  Another defendant had pleaded guilty ahead of the trial. The fraud involved the running of an electrical supply business targeting the hotel sector.

The three men enticed wealthy individuals from within their community to invest in Saunders Electrical Wholesale Ltd, (SEWL).  The business purported to be a successful supplier of electrical goods to blue chip hotel chains such as the Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn and Park Plaza.

Jolan Marc Saunders, 39, of Buckhurst Hill ran SEWL, which was based in Hainault, Essex. From early 2006, he attracted investors in a number of ways.  They were told that because of the credit crisis it was difficult to obtain finance from the banks to purchase goods for which they already had orders.  Obtaining finance from banks took time and they could make a bigger profit if the orders, referred to as deals, could be completed quickly and thus with higher returns.

Jolan Mark Saunders pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud and to acting as a director of a company whilst disqualified.

Michael Dean Strubel, 54, of South London was the director of Zac Fashions, which supplied storage facilities to the garment industry.   At one time he shared part of the business premises of SEWL.  Mr Strubel was also the owner of Camlet Capital Ltd. In October 2006 Mr Strubel aligned himself with Mr Saunders in approaching individuals to invest in SEWL.

Spencer Mitchell Steinberg, 46, of Radlett qualified as a chartered accountant in 1995, and later became a partner in an accountancy firm. In 2006 Mr Strubel and his company Zac Fashions were introduced to Mr Steinberg as potential clients for his accountancy firm.

SEWL had the guise of respectability in that it supplied electrical goods to high profile hotels.  However, this trade was fairly minor, and not to the high levels claimed to potential investors.

David Green, Director of the SFO, said:

These three individuals preyed on investors, including vulnerable victims from their own communities. They had parted with tens of thousands of pounds, and in some instances their life savings.”

Sentencing will take place at a later date.

Notes to editors:

  1. This case was accepted for investigation in June 2010 and announced when the defendants were charged in March 2013.  Details of the press release issued at charge is available here.
  2. Counsel for the prosecution were as follows:
    1. Sarah Forshaw QC, of 5 Kings Bench Walk.
    2. Brendan Morris, of Red Lion Chambers.
  3. Jolan Marc Saunders pleaded guilty two both counts on the indictment on 13 July 2015.
  4. Counsel for the defence were as follows:
    1. Michael Dean Strubel – Mark Trafford QC and Tom Godfrey
    2. Spencer Mitchell Steinberg – Jerome Lynch QC and David Batcup
    3. Jolan Marc Saunders – James Curtis QC and Kwame Inyundo
  5. Hertfordshire Constabulary and the Metropolitan Police Service with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (now the National Crime Agency) provided assistance on this case.

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