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Admiral's son faces jail after tricking investors.

Byline: Melvyn Howe

A

admiral's son was behind bars yesterday after betraying trusting investors and pocketing a fortune.

Roddam Twiss, a 64-year-old former schoolteacher, conned victims with 'big talk', complicated language and namedropped almost every time he spoke. He also 'put out long documents with regrettably small print'.

London's Southwark Crown Court heard his approach to life was that of a 'confidence trickster', who indulged in 'pure flannel' while concealing the fact his so-called headquarters was a squalid ex-council maisonette.

As a result, clients' cash never got close to the high-yield investment he had promised.

Instead, public schooleducated Twiss, of Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green, east London, used their hard-earned money to pay off his mortgage, splash out on a luxury car, fund other business interests and fritter away what was left on general living expenses.

He showed no reaction as the jury of four women and eight men trying the two-month case took just over five hours to unanimously reject his defence of betrayal by a former business partner, and convict him of one count of conspiracy to defraud between November 1 1997 and December 1 the following year.

Adjourning sentence until September 17, Judge James Wadsworth QC rejected a defence application for bail and told Twiss: 'I warn you now that I take the view that a sentence of imprisonment is as near inevitable as anything can be, and in the circumstances of the case I think you should be remanded in custody until that date.'

The court heard Twiss had worked as a teacher before a couple of brushes with the law involving various offences of deception more than 20 years ago.

Spells as a business consultant and company director followed. Sir Derek Spencer QC, prosecuting, said: 'He is the son of Sir Admiral Frank Twiss, a former Black Rod in the House of Lords. He moved in the company of the late the Hon Mervyn Greenway, a stockbroker, whose father, Lord Greenway, had been Lord Mayor of London.'

The barrister explained it was the Serious Fraud Office's case that the defendant was an 'international fraudster', who had teamed up with Lebanese-born Emile Coury (62) to defraud investors with empty promises of healthy returns from a 'high-yield scheme'.

But 'they never intended to invest the money, and never did,' said Sir Derek. 'Indeed, they jointly stole the balance of the money, pounds 1.2 million. Then they used it for their own purposes. Coury had about two thirds and Twiss one third.'

Sir Derek maintained that while Coury was now too unwell to ever be tried there was nevertheless 'compelling evidence of guilt' against both men.

They had 'sought to entice' investors with talk of large profits and assurances their capital would be safe.

'His technique was that of the confidence trickster. He boosted investors' confidence by talking big. He used high-sounding business names and verbose language, which was mostly pure flannel. He put out long documents in regrettably small print. He also name-dropped, making references to a number of titled and influential people,' said the barrister.

The court heard the fraudster set up something called the Grosvenor Trust, a name he specifically chose 'with the intention to impress'.

Sir Derek said while it had 'no connection whatsoever' with the Duke of Westminster and the Grosvenor Estate, Twiss nevertheless boasted it had a number of distinguished and titled persons as trustees.

The barrister explained that while nothing could have been further from the truth, it still caught the interest of a number of mostly American investors.

But after they had parted with their money and begun wondering why they were not receiving any income, they were met with a variety of lies.

'When pressure from investors became intolerable, the defendant... said that Coury alone had stolen the money and fled. He pretended to be looking for him and trying to get their funds back,' said Sir Derek.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 28, 2004
Words:650
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