March 11 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
A former managing director jailed over his involvement in a £52million pension fraud has had his appeal against conviction thrown out by the High Court.
Graham Pitcher, of Nacton Lane, Great Barton, near Bury St Edmunds, was jailed for eight years for conspiracy to defraud.
He was found guilty in relation to the misuse of pension scheme funds managed by GP Noble.
The offences took place between October 2006 and July 2008.
Pitcher, then aged 51, was imprisoned in July 2011 after his conviction following a two-month trial at Southwark Crown Court in London.
Another defendant was acquitted, as were two others in a separate trial in 2012.
Pitcher appealed on the bases of non-disclosure of certain issues while would have assisted him at his trial and fresh documentary evidence. He also claimed that the acquittal of one of his alleged co-conspirators made his own conviction unsafe.
Dismissing Pitcher’s application at the Court of Appeal in London today, the three judges headed by Lord Justice Treacy stated: “The overall effect of the now available material would not have made any material impact on the specific issues to which it was relevant, and thus no impact upon the overall verdict. It therefore follows that the applicant was not denied a fair trial.”
They added that in relation to the acquittal of one of the other men they were not persuaded this made Pitcher’s conviction unsafe.
GP Noble was an independent pension trustee company registered in the UK and based in Nottingham.
At the time of the offences, its principal director was Pitcher.
GP Noble administered a large number of occupational pension schemes. Many of the schemes related to companies which had become insolvent or had gone into liquidation.
Pitcher moved £52m from secure guilt based investments from the UK to Swiss bank accounts held in the name of Fareston Limited, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and Multiple and Unilateral Financial Futures both registered in the British Virgin Islands.
The monies were moved in two tranches with £30m being transferred in August 2007 and £22m transferred in 2008.
He hid the transfers from other GP Noble directors and broke industry rules by failing to inform the pension authorities of the change in investment strategy.
Pitcher effectively handed over control of the pension funds to entities with no assets or track record.
During the trial, the jury heard evidence that Pitcher received substantial personal benefit for his role in the fraud and expected to receive a further £1m per year from Multiple and Unilateral Financial Futures Limited.