London, Jun 29 (PTI) An Indian-origin investment fraudster found guilty of scamming people across the UK has been ordered to pay GBP 391,680 or face four years extra in prison.
Charanjit Sandhu, 31, pleaded guilty to running a number of scams in different parts of the UK, conning people out of GBP 1,704,564, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Monday.
Through its comprehensive proceeds of crime work, in conjunction with Thames Valley Police and City of London Police, the CPS secured a Confiscation Order from court for the defendant to pay back all of his available assets.
“Mr Sandhu was pernicious, cruel and callous criminal who was the ringleader in an operation in which often vulnerable and elderly victims were targeted mercilessly, through relentless cold calling and high-pressure sales tactics. There was evidence that some vulnerable victims were targeted more than once,” said Claire Bennett, a Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS Proceeds of Crime division.
“Where we can take money from people who have profited from crime, we will not hesitate to do so. In 2019-20 the CPS recovered over GBP 100 million, stopping hundreds of criminals benefitting from their ill-gotten gains,” she said.
On December 20, 2017, Sandhu pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud in respect of the sale of carbon credits through Harman Royce Ltd and Kendrick Zale Ltd in a City of London Police investigation. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for each of those offences, to be served concurrently.
Sandhu’s available asset figures were determined by a court to be GBP 391,680. Notable known available assets include a rose gold Patek Phillipe watch valued at GBP 72,000, Audemars Piguet watch valued at GBP 22,000, and a Rolex watch valued at GBP 4,000.
The defendant attempted to stash some of his assets away, but the CPS said its investigation teams uncovered hidden assets of GBP 200,000 which he now has to pay back as part of the available assets figures.
Much of the money obtained through the frauds in question were spent on his lavish lifestyle. There is evidence of spending on luxury holiday villa rental, watches and jewellery, designer clothing and over GBP 9,000 of dental work.
The fraud in question was committed by use of cold-calling and other high-pressure sales tactics to sell worthless or overpriced investments to unsuspecting members of the public. Separate Kent and Thames Valley investigations concerned an investment fraud committed against largely elderly victims.
The CPS said Sandhu was the ringleader in respect of the Thames Valley and Kent offending. He pleaded guilty in February 2018 to one count of conspiracy to defraud. He ultimately received a sentence of three and a half years imprisonment in respect of this offence, to be served concurrent to the sentences on the other operations.
In relation to a further separate Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) case, Sandhu was convicted of a number of counts of conspiracy to defraud and three counts of communicating an invitation to engage in an investment activity which involved a fraudulent share sale scheme, on December 11, 2017. In all, he was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, fraud, and money laundering.
Under the legal guidelines, if a defendant refuses to pay their Confiscation Order in a timely way, CPS Proceeds of Crime can invite the court to impose an additional default sentence on them of up to 14 years' imprisonment. The full debt continues to be in force until it is paid, and interest is charged against it at 8 per cent. PTI AK SCY SCY