It is refreshing that a convicted fraudster, who is already serving a custodial sentence for his original crime, has had his sentence increased due to his failure to repay millions of dollars to his victims.
The so-called Wolf of Wimbledon, Jeffrey Revell-Reade, who helped trick hundreds of British investors into buying worthless shares in a £70 million ($93 million) scam, had his prison sentence extended by four years for failing to pay back millions of pounds.
A London court activated a default prison sentence, following his conviction (along with another man) in 2014, after he repaid less than half of a £7.5 million ($9.9 million) confiscation order, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office said.
Revell-Reade was convicted of conspiracy to defraud in connection with a Madrid-based scam that duped at least 1,000 investors, in what was billed at the time as one of the largest boiler-room frauds pursued by British authorities.
Most fraudsters are malefactors who look upon a custodial sentence as an occupational hazard — particularly in countries such as the UK or Canada, where white collar crime sentencing is generously light in contrast to the minimum mandatory sentencing rules in the United States. Fraudsters are content to do their time and leave prison to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.
The UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) has been described by many UK judges and members of the legal profession as being draconian, due to the post-conviction shift in the burden of proof from law enforcement to the suspect. This switch in burden did not sit well with the courts when POCA was enacted. After all, it had always fallen to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was in fact guilty and, in the case of their assets, that they derived from criminality.
When POCA was introduced, it sought to streamline similar powers already available under legislation such as the UK’s Drug Trafficking Act, in particular the law enforcement’s ability to seek “lifestyle” confiscation orders against a convicted person. A lifestyle confiscation order enabled law enforcement to assess an offender’s lifestyle and assets, inferring that all assets were available for confiscation unless the offender could prove otherwise.
This ability to strip crooks of their assets meant that those convicted of certain acquisitive crimes were potentially going to be subjected to this double whammy. No longer could they do their time and continue to enjoy their assets when they left prison.
In addition, POCA also empowered the courts to increase prison sentences, where the court considered that they were “cocking a snoot” at the court’s decision ordering them to realize (acknowledge) their assets and repay their dues. POCA also brought pressure to bear on offenders to realize hidden assets: in other words, assets currently unknown to law enforcement investigators, but suspected to exist given the circumstances and implied value of the criminality involved.
In this instance, the swindler in question, Jeffrey Revell-Reade, was already serving a nine-and-a-half year prison sentence and re-incurred the court’s wrath for failing to comply with the original confiscation order. The court had ruled that his share of the benefit was £7.5 million ($9.9 million), and that this amount needed to be repaid.
Last week, the court decided that his failure to repay the proceeds of his crime (he had repaid less than half) would see his sentence increased by a further four years. One attribute of POCA is that even when he is released, the debt stays with him for life.
Revell-Reade is an Australian national and is probably pining for the sunny Oz clime as opposed to the dank interior of a UK prison. Boiler room scams by their very nature tend to target elderly victims and their life savings, their target of choice being pensioners. The judge stated that he had no doubt that Revell-Reade was “wilfully refusing to settle his order.”
The prosecution asserted that he used his benefit to buy properties across the globe, as well as chartering private jets and yachts and buying expensive wines and elite cars.
I support of this form of punishment. Not only does it seek to right the wrong, but in doing so it discourages others from following in the offender’s footsteps and removes the allure of their negative and toxic role model.
Martin Kenney, pictured above, is Managing Partner of Martin Kenney & Co., Solicitors, a specialist investigative and asset recovery practice based in the BVI and focused on multi-jurisdictional fraud and grand corruption cases www.martinkenney.com |@MKSolicitors. In 2014 he was the recipient of the ACFE’s highest honor: the Cressey Award for life-time achievement in the detection and deterrence of fraud. He was selected as one of the Top Thought Leaders of the Legal Profession in 2018 by Who’s Who Legal International and as the number one offshore lawyer for asset recovery in 2017.