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A MERSEY businessman was facing jail after being found guilty of his role in a multi-million pound investments swindle that left dozens of pensioners penniless.

Malcolm Barber, 70, played a management role in two companies which promised "complete security" and "guaranteed high interest" fixed-rate bonds.

Some 127 people - many pensioners who invested their life savings and retirement funds - were left with nothing when two sister companies Gentry and Dublin collapsed owing around PS5m in 2009.

One victim, 75, who lost her PS329,000 retirement fund described the last five years of her life as a "disaster".

Following an eight-week trial, a jury took a matter of hours to find Barber, of Links View, Wallasey, guilty.

He had denied two counts of participating in a fraudulent business, claiming he did not play a management role at the companies during the time in question. His former business partner Terry Warrington, from Morecambe, had already pleaded guilty to fraud.

Barber quit his role as honorary treasurer of the Liverpool and District Cricket Competition (LDCC) ahead of the trial.

Wallasey pensioner Sue Waugh first invested with Gentry in 1989. She told how payments were regularly made until 2009, when they suddenly stopped.

She told the ECHO: "I remember getting a phone call from the police telling me what had happened. I have lost PS30,000 but there are so many other people who have lost a lot more.

"Seeing Barber get convicted is a justice of sorts. We haven't got our money back but this is a start.

"He is an arrogant, slimy man who has ruined countless lives. His initials are MRB - I call him the money-robbing b******. He knew the companies were in serious financial trouble long before things went awry.

VICTIMS: JohnWaugh, Eileen "People continued to hand over their money in bonds and he and Warrington knew that they were unable to pay the returns. He has never shown any remorse."

Widowed pensioner Eileen Dunn, also from Wallasey, said: "Last year, Malcolm Barber said he was surprised charges were being brought and that he would fight to the bitter end.

"This conviction shows him for what he really is.

"Now we are looking forward to him receiving the appropriate sentence."

Brian Cummings, prosecuting, had told jurors that Barber played an active role in the scheme from behind a "smokescreen".

The business model was to use bond-holders' cash to loan out to borrowers, who could not secure high street loans, at high interest rates.

That interest was then used to Sue and above, Dunn, top make repayments to the bond-holders and any surplus was profit for the company.

Bond-holders routinely reinvested their money and some bond-holders carried on doing this for 20 years or more.

By 2007 bond-holders had PS3.5m and PS1.8m invested in Gentry and Dublin respectively.

In April 2007 an elderly investor's estate sought to cash in the bonds and recover PS450,000 due, but the money had run out.

Barber will be sentenced next month.


VICTIMS: Sue and John Waugh, above, Eileen Dunn, top

GUILTY: Malcolm Barber
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 13, 2013
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