Con artist lawyer is jailed for £250k investment scam

Gordon Manson
Gordon Manson
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A CITY lawyer who posed as a wealthy investor to con two venture capitalists out of £250,000 has been jailed for six years.

Gordon Manson, 48, of Caiystane Avenue, used the cash in an attempt to negotiate the takeover of a business worth £19 million. His scam was only foiled when the owner of the company mentioned the deal to a friend over drinks and was told Manson was a conman.

Manson, a qualified solicitor, had been jailed for five years in 2003 after attempting a similar £17m fraud in the Capital.

The police officer in that case described him as “a compulsive liar, conman and fantasist who has consistently displayed utter disregard for the justice system”.

Jailing him at the Old Bailey, the Common Serjeant of London, Brian Barker QC, said: “Your whole lifestyle has been self-centred and based on dishonesty and self-
delusion.

“You gave every appearance that your interest in that company was genuine, using professional advisers. Subsequently your true identity was discovered and you were arrested. You were financing these activities on the back of two loans from venture finance companies. This was fraudulent from the outset and professionally planned.”

The Old Bailey heard Manson first made an approach to invest in Avanta, a serviced office company, in late 2010. Posing as Fraser Henderson, he claimed he was “cash rich” with a portfolio of serviced offices outside London.

In May 2012 he made another approach to buy the business and met with the owner David Alberto at the Westbury Hotel in Mayfair to discuss the deal. Manson claimed he ran a property investment business and spent most of his time in Andorra and Madrid. He also claimed that he had access to a £50m fund to invest. Prosecutor Antony Swift said: “There is not believed to be any truth in his claims.”

Mr Alberto spent £80,000 in professional fees relating to the deal before learning “Henderson” was in fact a conman named Gordon Manson. He contacted police and then arranged a meeting with Manson at an office in London so the fraudster could be arrested.

Manson later admitted that he had obtained loans worth £250,000 in order to finance the acquisition of Avanta, including £100,000 from Jeremy Keith and £150,000 from Zafir Rafiq. Both loans were backed by personal guarantees which had been falsified by Manson.

Defence barrister Wayne Cleaver said all of the money had been spent on surveyors, lawyers and “other expenses” and there was nothing left.

Manson pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation. The judge sentenced him to 32 months on the Avanta fraud and 40 months on each of the bridging loan frauds, concurrent with each other but consecutive to the Avanta fraud, making a total of 72 months.