Accountant in £10m Ponzi fraud gets six years

A chartered accountant has been jailed for six-and-a-half years after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud in a multimillion pound Ponzi scheme.

Richard Pollett, 70, was convicted alongside John Hirst, 61, and his 64-year-old wife, Linda Hirst, for scamming UK investors and ex-pats in Majorca out of their life savings.

Hirst was sentenced at Bradford Crown Court to nine years for his part in the fraud while his wife received two and a half years for money laundering.

The court heard how over an eight-year period Hirst, his wife and accountant Richard Pollett collected over £10m from friends and neighbours on the Mediterranean island by promising returns of 1.5% per month from their investment company, Gilher Inc.

Gilher was supposed to provide returns from investments in the US stock market. Instead, a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation found that around half of the money invested was siphoned off by the Hirsts to fund a luxury lifestyle. This included travelling first class, spending over £470,000 on developing their Majorcan home and gifting hundreds of thousands of pounds to family members.

The SFO says Hirst conducted a similar fraud in the early 1990s when working as an insurance salesman in Yorkshire. On that occasion he was jailed after conning out-of-work miners out of their redundancy payments.

At their trial, Hirst pleaded guilty. Pollett was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and Linda Hirst was found guilty of money laundering. They were sentenced on August 31.

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