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Ponzi fraudsters sentenced to a total of 21 years

24 May, 2016 | News Releases

Three fraudsters who took almost £80m from London investors and then spent the money on yachts, expensive property and cars were sentenced to a total of nearly 21 years at Southwark Crown Court today.

Jolan Marc Saunders, 40, of Buckhurst Hill, Michael Dean Strubel, 54, of North London and Spencer Mitchell Steinberg, 46, of Hertfordshire, were all convicted of conspiracy to defraud following an investigation by the SFO.

Saunders pleaded guilty in July 2015 to one count of conspiracy to defraud and one count of acting as a director of a company whilst disqualified. He was sentenced today to seven years in prison for the conspiracy to defraud charge and one year, to run concurrently, for acting as a director whilst disqualified. Saunders has also been disqualified from acting as a company director for 12 years.

Strubel and Steinberg, who were both tried and found guilty by a jury in February 2016, were sentenced to seven years and six years and nine months respectively.

The Ponzi fraud they ran involved an electrical supply business. From early 2006 they persuaded people to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds, in some instances millions of pounds, in Saunders Electrical Wholesale Ltd, (SEWL).  SEWL purported to be a successful supplier of electrical goods such as light bulbs, air conditioning units, trouser presses and televisions to major hotel chains such as the Marriott and Hilton. However, the trade was fairly minor, and not to the high levels claimed to potential investors. They also falsely claimed to be the preferred supplier of the Olympic village, ahead of the 2012 Games.

In handing down the sentences, His Honour Judge Grieve QC said:

“Their roles were complementary and they looked to share the profits of their crime equally. And the lifestyles of all three became ever more conspicuous.”

Jane de Lozey, joint head of fraud at the SFO said:

“This was a particularly pernicious crime where vulnerable investors from within the fraudsters’ own communities were targeted for huge sums, including, in some instances, their life savings.”

The SFO would like to thank Hertfordshire Constabulary, the Metropolitan Police Service, Essex Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (now the National Crime Agency) who provided assistance on this case.

Confiscation matters will be heard at Southwark Crown Court on 10 March 2017.

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 and at conviction here. The estimated value of the fraud was £79.5m.
  2. Jolan Marc Saunders pleaded guilty to both counts on the indictment on 13 July 2015.
  3. Counsel for the prosecution were as follows:
    • Sarah Forshaw QC, of 5 Kings Bench Walk.
    • Brendan Morris, of Red Lion Chambers.
  4. Counsel for the defence were as follows:
    • Michael Dean Strubel – Mark Trafford QC and Tom Godfrey
    • Spencer Mitchell Steinberg – Jerome Lynch QC and David Batcup
    • Jolan Marc Saunders – James Curtis QC and Mark Weekes

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