One of the two fraudsters at a company that got £70 million from London Capital & Finance before it collapsed was today jailed for 13 years for conning vulnerable victims out of £36 million in a boiler room fraud.
Paul Seakens, 60, was sentenced at Southwark specialist court Prospero House after being convicted of fraud and moneylaundering while a director of a company called Enviro Associates.
The Evening Standard has previously reported how he was one of two fraudsters at a company called Prime Resort Development, which was one of the biggest recipients of LCF loans.
While LCF claimed it lent Prime £70 million, administrators say the group’s assets are only worth up to £15 million.
Enviro sold carbon credits to the public via call centres at what the Crown Prosecution Service said were “vastly inflated prices” of 200% to 1000% mark-ups.
The money from the victims, the CPS said, was paid directly to the bank accounts of three London clearing companies called CNI, Tocan and Opus. They were all controlled by Seakens and deducted a commission before paying the funds back to the boiler rooms.
CPS specialist fraud prosecutors said this was simply a money laundering device which created the impression to victims that their funds were going to a safe, Financial Conduct Authority-regulated third party.
Jane Mitchell of the CPS said: “This was a particularly hideous scam operation, where vulnerable victims lost their life savings on so-called investments that had greatly inflated return claims and no resale market.
“In each of these frauds elderly and generally inexperienced investors were targeted.
“They were cold-called in their homes and pressured into buying these so-called investments by criminals who made them look genuine and trustworthy.
“They were conned: the products being sold were, in essence, worthless.”
Seakens’ fellow Enviro director Luke Ryan, 33, was also jailed, for six years.
Ms Mitchell said: “I would like to thank the work of the City of London Police and Hampshire Police on their excellent investigation which enabled us to prove that Seakens and Ryan were exploiting vulnerable victims out of much-needed savings for their own selfish purposes.”
The case was brought by the CPS’s specialist fraud division.
Seakens was convicted of three counts of money laundering and one count of fraudulent trading. As well as his 13 year sentence, he was disqualified from acting as a director for 12 years.
Ryan was convicted of one count of fraudulent trading and imprisoned for eight years and director disqualification for eight years.
Companies House filings show LCF agreeing a loan to Prime dated 31 October 2018, by which time Seakens had already been disqualified from acting as a director while at Enviro.
Another Prime player was Terrence Mitchell, who was sentenced in December 2018 to two years’ jail for fraud and six months for “carrying on regulated activities” at collapsed savings scheme Anglo Wealth. His sentences were suspended for two years and he was banned from serving as a director for six years.
Seakens worked as Prime’s book-keeper, while Terrence Mitchell is believed to have been key to raising funds for it.
LCF collapsed in 2019 after raising £236 million from members of the public.
The Treasury recently agreed to pay out £120 million to victims due to the Financial Conduct Authority’s failure properly to regulate the firm.
The Serious Fraud Office arrested five people in 2019 in the Kent and Sussex areas as part of their investigation into LCF. The probe remains ongoing.