A CROOKED company director who conned investors out of £18 million has been jailed for seven years.
Stephen Farley was portrayed as “a whizz kid on the stock market” by staff but one man who was briefly employed as an investment director by his firm quickly came to the conclusion that he did not know what he was talking about in relation to financial matters and was incompetent.
Farley, 57, induced investors to sink money into his firm to trade on the foreign exchange market in a Ponzi scheme, paying returns to some clients from fresh capital injected by new investors and financing his own luxury existence.
The suave crook ran his business from St Andrew Square, decked out with banks of screens showing financial information and a £10,000 bronze statue of a bull.
Farley invited clients to seats in the Royal Box at Ascot with a stay at the Ritz hotel and helicopter and Rolls-Royce transfers, the High Court in Edinburgh heard.
Guests were put up in suites at the London hotel, £17,000 paid for the flights to the raceground for 12 people and more than £18,000 spent on the hospitality package including food and champagne.
Farley, who lives in Newtongrange, spent £1600 on champagne at an exclusive London restaurant and picked up the bill for £3359 at Le Gavroche eatery.
In turn he was treated to a weekend at Gleneagles Hotel for golf and drinks by investors to thank him for “all the money they were making”, said advocate depute Alan Mackay. Farley also used the firm’s accounts to purchase two Bentleys at more than £270,000, paid a nearly £300,000 deposit on the Old Mill House at Dalkeith, and instructed an architect to prepare drawings for £2.5m of work on the property including a £60,000 security fence.
A judge told Farley: “This was a complex and detailed fraudulent scheme which involved elaborate deception.”
Lady Scott told him: “Very significant sums of money were involved.”
She said Farley was an educated man who had the opportunity to make something of his life but had chosen to apply himself to weaving a web of deceit.
She told him he would have been jailed for nine years for the offence, but the sentence would be reduced to take account of his guilty plea and the delay in proceedings.
Defence solicitor advocate John Scott QC said that Farley’s ultimate plan had been to set up a private bank.
He told the court: “He has got nothing now. He has made his way here from the council property he stays in Newtongrange.”