Stamford

Stamford firm director jailed for seven years for £3m fraud

A company director who defrauded investors in his firm out of £3 million has been jailed for seven years.

Alan Chandler persuaded a venture capital company to invest in his Stamford-based green energy company Soleil Holdings Ltd using a forged document to support his story that he was a multi-millionaire.

Jonathon Dee, prosecuting, said Chandler falsely claimed his company was thriving when it was actually struggling.

The men behind the venture capital company were persuaded to invest more and more money on the promise that the firm was about to become a success.

But instead they lost every penny of their money when the company finally collapsed owing debts including staff wages.

Chandler, who was previously known as Mark Lamb, 46, of Torrance Drive, Melton Mowbray, admitted three charges of fraud.

Recorder Paul Mann QC, passing sentence, told him: “If the investors had known the truth they would have cut their losses.

“As it was they became sucked into making more payments as a result of your assurances. They have lost every penny they invested with you. You just fed them lies.

“You created a fictional lifestyle. In every sense of the word you have lived your life as a professional conman.”

The judge said he accepted that Soleil Holdings had the potential to become a successful business but added: “Your desire to get rich quick is one of the reasons why the business failed.”

Jonathon Dee, prosecuting, said that Chandler, whom the investors knew under his original name of Mark Lamb, told people his business, which grew straw and converted it into electricity, was thriving.

He obtained investment from Fredrik Werner and Agne Svensson who operated through a Monaco-based venture capital company Marine Life. The two men had checked out Soleil and found no issues with the company.

They were then given a series of presentations by Chandler in which he made out he was a wealthy man who was backed by millions of pounds of personal wealth. To support his story he produced documents showing that he had received 150,000 shares worth £5 million following his departure from a previous company.

Mr Dee said that in reality Chandler received only 2,000 shares worth £56,000 but altered the documents to show he received the higher amount.

Chandler claimed to have a portfolio of properties in the UK and across Europe and said he was the son of a High Court judge.

Mr Dee said: “Mr Werner and Mr Svensson conducted due diligence but nothing cropped up.”

Chandler made excuses to explain the lack of up to date financial information and in October 2011 claimed there had been a fire and his firm was due an insurance pay out of £750,000.

Mr Dee said: “There had been a fire and there had been an insurance claim. It had been paid. The sum paid was £23,000.”

Eventually Chandler owned up and admitted the true position.

Mr Dee said: “He finally realised that the business had failed. There was a meeting where Mr Werner and Mr Svensson learned the truth. What they learned greatly shocked them.”

Mr Dee added that most of the £3 million investment went into propping up the company to keep it going but Chandler personally benefited by almost £400,000.

The money went on “exotic” holidays for Chandler and his girlfriend, school fees and expensive cars as well as renting a farmhouse.

Chandler used false documents to persuade a second venture capital company to finance the acquisition of £2 million worth of plant and equipment for Soleil Holdings on a rental and hire scheme. That company recovered their losses as they were able to reclaim the items.

Greg Johnson, in mitigation, told the court: “This was a company that was viable. It could have succeeded. He was trying to make the company succeed.

“The investment did not go to him. It went primarily into the company.”