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£100m fraudster jailed for 14 years

He was guilty of ‘the most egregious and persistent offending’

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Timothy Schools has been sentenced to 14 years in prison in the UK for running a fraudulent fund, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said.

He had already been found guilty on five counts of fraud, fraudulent trading and money laundering on 10 August 2022, following an investigation by the SFO.

In 2009, Schools set up a Cayman Islands-based fund, called the Axiom Legal Financing Fund, which claimed to provide loans to law firms pursuing no-win-no-fee cases.

Investigators found that the majority of the £100m ($121m, €118m) raised from investors went to three law firms in which Schools either had undisclosed interests in or were owned by him.

The fraudster “dishonestly added” fees to both the law firms and the fund to get money for himself totalling £19.6m which he hid in offshore bank accounts held in complex overseas trusts.

He then used the money to fund his lavish lifestyle including buying shares in a luxury ski hotel in France, a motor boat, luxury cars and a £5m fishing and shooting estate in the Lake District, bought via an offshore company.

During the trial, judge Martin Beddoe said Schools was guilty of “the most egregious and persistent offending involving huge sums of money” and that he was facing “a lengthy period of imprisonment”.

The fraudster was first charged in 2020 for his involvement in the Axiom fund alongside former financial adviser David Kennedy and ex-solicitor Richard Emmett. The jury, however, failed to reach a verdict for Kennedy and acquitted Emmett.

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