DURING A confiscation enforcement hearing held at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday 2 August, fraudster Jolan Saunders was jailed for almost nine years for failing to pay his multi-million pound confiscation order.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) secured convictions against Jolan Saunders and his co-conspirators Michael Strubel and Spencer Steinberg in 2015, showing that the men deceived people into investing in Saunders Electrical Wholesale Ltd by lying about supply contracts.
The fraudsters overstated minor contracts with the Hilton, Marriott, Plaza and Holiday Inn hotel chains and flatly lied about a non-existent contract to supply the Olympic Village for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Saunders, Strubel and Steinberg took almost £80 million from investors from their London base and spent it on yachts, expensive property and luxury cars. Jolan Saunders and Michael Strubel were each jailed for seven years, while Spencer Steinberg was jailed for six years and nine months.
After an investigation by the SFO’s Proceeds of Crime team uncovered that Saunders held millions of pounds in criminal assets, he was ordered to pay £5,262,301.03 in order to compensate his victims.
Despite the SFO showing clear evidence of Saunders’ £4.5 million in hidden assets from his fraud, Saunders has made no attempt to use this money to pay his confiscation order. Instead, he has stalled and asserted, without evidence, that he hopes to pay the confiscation order through “major project works at blue chip hotels” (echoing the false claims he made to those whom he defrauded).
Commenting on the case, John Carroll (chief operating officer of the SFO) said: “With callous disdain for those he has harmed, Jolan Saunders has resorted to falsehoods and obfuscation to avoid paying compensation to the victims of his ernicious fraud. We will not allow him to do so. He has rightly been jailed and we will continue to fight to deliver justice and return compensation to his victims.”
Following his failure to take steps to pay his confiscation order, the Court activated Saunders’ default prison sentence. Saunders has been imprisoned for 3,236 days (or just under nine years).
With accrued interest and the small amounts paid by Saunders, the amount he owes, as of 27 July 2021, is £5,756,311.46. The SFO will continue to take steps to recover his illicit gains.
The SFO fights complex financial crime, delivers justice for victims and protects the UK’s global reputation as a safe place in which to do business. The organisation investigates and prosecutes the most serious or complex cases of fraud, bribery and corruption and also recovers the proceeds of crime worldwide.
Under director Lisa Osofsky, the SFO has secured convictions against 21 individuals and companies, recovered over £1 billion of illicit gains and secured eight agreements with companies including Serco, G4S and Airbus, compelling them to pay penalties and also reform to prevent future law-breaking.
Specifics of the convictions
Jolan Saunders pleaded guilty in July 2015 to one count of conspiracy to defraud and one count of acting as a director of a company while disqualified. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for the conspiracy to defraud charge and one year, to run concurrently, for acting as a director while disqualified. Jolan Saunders was handed his confiscation order on Monday 9 September 2019.
Michael Strubel was tried and found guilty by a jury in February 2015 and sentenced to seven years. Strubel was handed his confiscation order of £2,131,362.30 on Tuesday 10 September 2019.
In February 2015, a third defendant, namely Spencer Steinberg, was also found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to defraud. Steinberg was handed a confiscation order in 2017 based on his (negligible) realisable assets at the time of the hearing.
The individuals’ confiscation orders could be increased if the value of their realisable assets changes.