14 years for Ponzi fraud mastermind
Corrupt businessman Kautilya Nandan Pruthi, who duped celebrities, sports stars and hundreds of other victims out of £115 million in Britain's biggest "Ponzi" investment scam, has been jailed for 14 years and six months.
Indian-born Pruthi was labelled a "professional fraudster" as he was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court, and told he faced deportation back to his home country following his jail term.
Pruthi's associates John Anderson and Kenneth Peacock, who were found guilty by jury of unauthorised regulated activity, were jailed for 18 months for their part in the fraud.
Former cricketer Darren Gough and actor-turned-singer Jerome Flynn were among 800 people scammed as flamboyant fraudster Pruthi claimed he was one of the richest men in London.
Investors lost life savings after being told they would get massive revenue returns unmonitored by the Financial Services Authority.
Delivering his sentence to Pruthi, Judge Michael Gledhill QC said: "You are an extremely intelligent, articulate, sophisticated and plausible liar. In short, a professional fraudster. You set up and masterminded what may well be the largest and longest running Ponzi fraud to come before the courts in this country."
Many investors lost their homes, pensions and life savings, he added. Mr Gledhill said Peacock and Anderson, who the court heard had since undertaken psychiatric counselling, were as much victims of Pruthi as other investors.
"They trusted you completely, as did everybody else that came into your orbit. They believed every false representation you made about your scheme - why would they have invested and then encouraged family and friends to give you their money?" he added.
Pruthi was also made subject to a financial report order and qualifies for automatic deportation after his release from prison, the court heard.
Before trial, Pruthi pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to four specimen counts of obtaining money transfers by deception, one count of participating in a fraudulent business, one count of unauthorised regulated activity and one count of converting and removing criminal property.