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Oxbridge graduate fraudster gets another 10 years in prison for not paying back £11m stolen funds

|News, Proceeds of crime

A former Oxbridge student has had 10 years added onto the 11-year prison sentence he is still serving, after failing to pay back £11 million of his ill-gotten gains from a fake ‘green’ investment scheme.

Michael Richards, 59, was originally convicted and sentenced in 2017 with four others – all of whom went to Oxbridge - of cheating the public revenue. Two years later, the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division successfully applied to the court for Richards to pay back £9,999,999 of his ill-gotten gains. This has risen to £11.1 million with interest.

After paying back just over £30,000, the CPS took him to Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 17 August for non-payment of the full amount and requested an additional prison sentence be activated instead.

The fraudsters told investors their money would be spent on research and development into carbon credits, attracting more than £65 million in investment in the ‘green’ scheme. However, only £16 million of this was spent on planting trees.

Instead the group stole £20 million of the investors’ money and laundered it via bank accounts and secret trusts, spending it on luxury properties in London, Australia, and Dubai as well as hidden offshore investments. They also failed to pay around £6.5million in tax. Richards spent his share on a £2.7m house and £32,000 on jewellery from Boodles.

Adrian Foster, Head of the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, said:

“Michael Richards failed to pay back the £11 million he owed the public so the CPS had to take him back to court and now he’s had 10 years added onto his current sentence.

“We worked with HMRC to make sure he did not benefit from the proceeds of his crime, but he has only paid back a paltry amount.

“Even when fraudsters are convicted and sentenced the CPS will continue to pursue them for the money they owe, or they risk remaining in prison for many more years.”

Richards’ fellow fraudster Evdoros Demetriou, 82, had nine years added onto his six-year prison sentence in July, after failing to pay back £4.6 million. In total, all five offenders were told to repay £20.6 million.

Robert Gold was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director.

Rodney Whiston-Dew was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director.
Jonathan Anwyl was sentenced to five-and-a-half years' imprisonment.

In 2019-20 the CPS recovered over £100 million, stopping hundreds of criminals benefitting from their ill-gotten gains.

Notes to editors

  • Michael Richards (04/01/1962) was convicted in November 2017 of a conspiracy to cheat the public revenue, and also cheating the revenue in relation to his personal tax liability. He was sentenced to a total of 11 years' imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director.

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