Clowes is denied parole

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PETER CLOWES, the convicted fraudster behind the biggest swindle of private investors in Britain this century, has had his application for parole rejected.

Clowes became eligible for parole in June, after serving a third of the 10-year sentence he received at the Old Bailey in February 1992.

Parole Board officials never comment on why an appeal has been turned down. The chief questions on which a decision is based, however, are whether the prisoner will reoffend and if parole can help in rehabilitation.

However, Clowes's case will be reviewed annually, and he could walk free from Sudbury Open Prison in Derbyshire, as early as next June.

Clowes, 53, was imprisoned after investors in his Barlow Clowes finance firm lost pounds 190m they thought had been invested in safe government gilt- edged stock. Instead, the money had been siphoned into a variety of poor investments.

David Pine, a partner of Evershed's in Manchester, which successfully represented the 16,000 victims and won pounds 150m in compensation from the Government for investors, said: "He was not what you would call a sophisticated crook."

Clowes developed a taste for high-life - a style embraced by his second wife, Pamela, 48. On one private jet trip to Jersey costing thousands, she wrote a single word on the disembarkation card to describe the purpose of her visit: "Lunch."

Such feats of extravagance were matched by her husband, who once spent pounds 1m of investors' money on hiring a private jet to fly to the Virgin Islands for an 11-day holiday on a luxury yacht. He bought fast cars, a yacht, a pounds 2m Lear jet, and a chateau and vineyard in France.

Last week, the repercussions of the affair continued to be felt, as the report by the DTI inspectors was published. In it, they pinpoint the failure of auditors to the Clowes empire, including Spicer & Pegler and Touche Ross, to heed warning signals. They also said further regulatory tightening could enhance investor protection.

An official for the City's top regulator, the Securities and Investments Board, commented that the entire regulatory framework had changed since Clowes embarked on his criminal career. "No system can prevent fraud, but what it can do is make fraud much harder to commit, and that is what we now have in the UK." The SIB's first move in its newly created regulatory function in May 1988 was to put Barlow Clowes into liquidation.

The Joint Disciplinary Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants also last week announced its last disciplinary action against accountants involved in the affair. It fined Stuart Counsell, then head of Touche Ross, pounds 75,000 and censured him. John Connolly, the partner then in charge of the firm's Northern region, was fined pounds 40,000 and reprimanded.