Clowes to stay in prison: Fraudster fails in appeal against theft convictions and plea for shorter sentence

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The Independent Online
PETER CLOWES, the convicted gilts fraudster, was sent back to jail yesterday having failed in his appeal against 10 convictions for theft. He faces nine more years in prison after three appeal judges also threw out a plea for a shorter sentence.

Lord Justice Watkins dismissed Clowes' claim that he could not be guilty of stealing investors' funds because they had signed a mandate giving him absolute discretion over how the money was to be invested.

Last year, after a 112-day trial, Clowes was convicted on 18 counts of fraud and theft and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. He was found guilty of stealing money from mainly elderly investors who were gulled into believing their savings were to be invested in rock-solid government securities.

Lord Justice Watkins said: 'What is without any doubt is that the schemes were dishonest and fraudulent almost from conception if not at conception. They affected small investors who could not possibly afford to lose their savings as many, many, many did.'

He said it was clear that investors had deposited funds with Barlow Clowes on trust to invest in government securities. The company was not at liberty to lend funds on to Clowes 'as a mini-merchant bank to treat as his own'.

Clowes' appeal hinged on his claim that he was not legally bound to invest all the money he received in gilts. But the judges said that Barlow Clowes was authorised only to place monies elsewhere temporarily and pending investment in gilts.

During the 1980s Clowes built up an investment company that as a result of widespread advertising and word-of-mouth recommendations had pounds 190m under management. By the time the business crashed in 1988, just pounds 1.9m of the pounds 115m of investments the company should have had could be traced.

The rest had gone on a huge spending spree. Clowes accumulated a chateau in France, a pounds 2m yacht, a Derbyshire sheep farm and a collection of fast cars.

He had personalised Lear jets and a helicopter. Even after the business folded, Clowes caused an outcry from ruined investors after he was granted pounds 1,000 a week living expenses in exchange for his co-operation in tracing funds.

The appeal of Peter Naylor, Clowes' number two, against conviction for the theft of pounds 19,000 was also quashed. He has served an 18-month sentence. Lord Justice Watkins said: 'Although he was not in the same class as Clowes as a fraudsman, he was no mean deceiver.'

(Photograph omitted)

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