Derby Crown Court heard during sentencing on Friday, September 1, how Martin Rigney, 68, formerly of Great Hucklow, denied 22 counts of forgery involving tens of thousands of pounds of clients’ cash that was lost after it was invested into a fund which was suspended.
Rigney claimed he had invested money with clients’ consent but in July a trial jury found him guilty of 16 counts of forgery. He was found not guilty on a further six counts.
Detective Constable Julie Wheeldon, who led the Derbyshire Constabulary investigation, said: “Martin Rigney committed abhorrent abuses of trust against his clients who were consequently caused financial difficulty and emotional distress.
“Our thorough and lengthy investigation demonstrates how seriously we take this kind of offence.”
The case came to the attention of Derbyshire police in June, 2012, following an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Rigney traded under Topps Rogers Financial Management and his clients’ funds were invested in the Curzon Capital Investment Poland Geared Growth Property Fund - known as the Polish Fund.
Clients were advised to invest via Royal Skandia bonds before Rigney forged signatures and switched investments to the Polish Fund, according to the court.
Martin Hurst, prosecuting, had stated this investment was a high-risk, unregulated collective investment scheme and was unsuitable for the majority of Rigney’s clients - many of whom were elderly and required minimum risk investments. He claimed money placed into the Polish Fund yielded £371,149 as Rigney’s commission but the fund was suspended in 2008.
Mr Hurst said Rigney signed documents on the clients’ behalf and forged their signatures on paperwork and the Financial Conduct Authority launched its investigation in 2012.
The original 22 charges of forgery related to people from Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. Many were elderly and invested money as part of plans to secure life savings or for nursing home and school fees, according to Mr Hurst.
Rigney claimed he had invested clients’ money with their consent and argued that he believed he was investing clients’ money into a secure investment.
He also told police that he felt clients were lazy in most cases and wanted someone to show them what to do and that they always wanted their money back because they were driven by greed.
Judge Robert Egbuna sentenced Rigney, of King Edwards, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, to seven-years of custody.
Det Con Wheeldon added that the passing of a seven-year sentence provides a significant deterrent to others considering defrauding clients.