Firm director defraded investors out of £3m

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.

A company director who scammed investors in his Stamford-based firm out of £3m has been jailed for seven years at Lincoln Crown Court.

Alan Chandler persuaded a venture capital company to invest in his Stamford-based green energy company Soleil Holdings using a forged document to support his story that he was a multi-millionaire.

Jonathon Dee, prosecuting, said Chandler falsely claimed his company was thriving when it was actually struggling.

The men behind the venture capital company were persuaded to invest more and more, believing the firm was about to become a success.

But instead they lost it all when the company finally collapsed owing debts including staff wages.

Chandler, who was previously known as Mark Lamb, 46, of Torrance Drive, Melton Mowbray, admitted three charges of fraud.

Recorder Paul Mann QC, passing sentence, told him: “If the investors had known the truth they would have cut their losses. As it was they became sucked into making more payments as a result of your assurances. They have lost every penny they invested with you. You just fed them lies.”

The judge said he accepted that Soleil Holdings had the potential to become a successful business but added: “Your desire to get rich quick is one of the reasons why the business failed.”

Jonathon Dee, prosecuting, said Chandler told people his business, which grew straw and converted it into electricity, was thriving.

He obtained investment from Fredrik Werner and Agne Svensson who operated through a Monaco-based venture capital company Marine Life. The two men had checked out Soleil and found no issues with the company.

They were then given a series of presentations by Chandler in which he said he was a wealthy man who was backed by millions of pounds of personal wealth. To support his story he produced documents showing that he had received 150,000 shares worth £5m following his departure from a previous company.

Mr Dee said that in reality Chandler, who claimed to have a portfolio of properties across Europe, received only 2,000 shares worth £56,000 but altered the documents.

Chandler made excuses to explain the lack of up to date financial information and in October 2011 claimed his firm was due an insurance pay out of £750,000 following a fire - it was actually paid £23,000.

Eventually Chandler owned up and admitted the true position.

Mr Dee said most of the £3m investment went into propping up the company but Chandler personally benefited by almost £400,000.

The money went on “exotic” holidays for Chandler and his girlfriend, school fees and expensive cars as well as renting a farmhouse in Stamford.

False documents were used to persuade a second venture capital company to finance the acquisition of £2m worth of plant and equipment but that firm reclaimed its items to recover its losses.

Greg Johnson, in mitigation, said: “This was a company that was viable. It could have succeeded.”