Matthew Ames, son of troubled overseas property company Harlequin's chairman David Ames, has been jailed for 40 months for cheating investors out of £1.6m via an elaborate Ponzi scheme.
Ames - who last August was "monitoring things" for his father at Harlequin's flagship Caribbean resort Buccament Bay - was found guilty of two counts of fraud in February in relation to his two green investment firms, Forestry for Life and the Investor Club.
Harlequin said in January that Matthew Ames is no longer overseeing Buccament Bay.
Forestry for Life and the Investor Club took around £1.6m from investors who were promised 15% returns from teak tree plantations and rainforest protection projects.
However at the time the fraud was discovered by the City of London Police and the then regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the two companies had just £310 between them.
To create the impression of success, funds taken from later investors were used to pay-out around £100,000 to his early victims - in line with the classic ‘Ponzi' style fraud, the City of London Police said.
During Ames' trial the court heard that instead of investing the money as promised, he used it to fund a lavish lifestyle of fast cars and luxury Caribbean accommodation.
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Simon Cordell, who led the investigation said: "Ames created a Ponzi fraud to play on peoples' conscience as well as their want to make their savings work for them, using trees and carbon credits to create a supposedly ethical investment scheme.
"Unfortunately it was all a pack of lies so he could live the high life at others expense, with no remorse shown for the damage caused to his victims' futures. I have little doubt that if we had not got to him when we did many more investors would have fallen into the same trap under a different company name.
"I hope this sentencing sends a clear message to anyone carrying out criminal activity and taking advantage of innocent people that City of London Police will find you and you will be prosecuted."
Last August Matthew Ames was disqualified from being a company director for 13 years, in relation to his running of Forestry for Life and the Investor Club.
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