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Fraud trial hears Wirral businessman deny he misled police
2:05pm Tuesday 22nd October 2013 in News
A WIRRAL businessman accused of fleecing pensioners in a £5m investment swindle has denied deceiving police officers investigating the missing money.
Malcolm Barber, 70, is being cross-examined at Preston Crown Court over his involvement in two investment vehicles that offered “complete security” and “guaranteed high interest” fixed rate bonds.
Barber, of Links View, Wallasey, denies four charges of fraudulent trading between December 2007 and autumn 2010.
He is further charged with carrying out an unauthorised investment business.
On Tuesday, prosecutor Brian Cummings took Barber through paperwork relating to his involvement in companies Gentry Investment Trust and Dublin CF.
Barber disagreed that having a 50% shareholding in the companies meant he was effectively in control of the firms with another man, Terry Warrington, who has already pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading and will be sentenced at a later date.
Asked by Mr Cummings if he had deliberately set out to play down his involvement in the schemes when interviewed by appointment with detectives, Barber replied: “I did not.”
The trial, which has already taken a month and is expected to last a further two weeks, has previously heard from the prosecution that Barber played an active role in the schemes behind a “smokescreen”.
Mr Cummings explained that from 2002 the two companies were incorporated in the Bahamas with a management firm acting as trustees in Guernsey.
Investors understood they were investing in property bonds but in fact their money was used to loan out to borrowers who could not secure high street loans at high interest rates.
That interest was then used to make repayments to the investors. However, the court has been told the firms were not authorised to deal in loans or bonds.
In 2005 the firms ran into difficulties and by 2007 investors had £3.5m and £1.8m in the Gentry and Dublin schemes respectively.
Gentry was set up by Terry Warrington, of Morecambe, in 1986. Barber claims he was not involved with the firm from 1999 and merely had a consultancy role through a separate company, Business Assistance in Wallasey.
On Tuesday Mr Cummings took Barber through a series of paperwork that he alleged indicated Barber’s involvement with the firms as one of being effectively in control of them, which he denied.
The trial continues.