And the English crook only offered returns of 12% – much lower than the rates offered here.
Terence Freeman, who set up GFX Capital Markets claiming he would make money for investors on foreign currency exchanges, admitted to fraudulent trading at Southwark Crown Court.
The court heard how the scheme, which unravelled following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, lured up to 700 people with the promise of no risk and high returns.
While millions of pounds of investors’ money was wiped out through botched trades and the high price of running the company, 62-year-old Freeman used his income to buy a top of the range Land Rover, an executive box at Spurs and lavish gifts for his new bride, including a £120,000 diamond ring.
Among his victims were a couple who were informed their £1.4m investment had risen to £2.7m, only to later find just £14,000 in their trading account.
One mortgage broker also handed up to 100 clients and £3.5m to Freeman, before eventually realising the truth behind the operation.
Detective Superintendent Bob Wishart, from the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate, says: “Rub away the sheen and you find Freeman is the archetypal fraudster happy to steal money and ruin lives. People invested their futures with GFX only to find they had been horribly conned by this criminal.
“Even after being caught Freeman was still trying to blame anyone but himself. It was only after a long and painstaking investigation that he finally admitted to the huge amount of personal and financial damage he has caused.”
Freeman’s deception was eventually uncovered when, having kept millions of his clients money invested in dollars, the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy led to the value of the dollar to plummet.
As angry investors began to threaten him, he went to the Metropolitan Police in February 2009 and eventually admitted to losing approximately £20m.
Freeman also pleaded guilty to engaging in business while bankrupt, acting as a director when bankrupt and acting in contravention of a disqualification order, although three counts of money laundering have been dropped.
In 1997, Freeman was jailed for four-and-a-half years and disqualified as a director for 15 years after being found guilty of eight offences relating to bankruptcy and being a disqualified director.
He will be sentenced on 14 February 2011 at Southwark Crown Court.
People ripped off here in Donegal by a roly-poly foreign national crook have been told they’ll get their money back this Friday!