Oxbridge-educated ‘green’ fraudster gets 8 more years in jail

One of five Oxbridge-educated fraudsters – who conned wealthy individuals to invest £65m in fake “green” projects – has been sentenced to an additional eight years in prison this week for non-payment of a £2.7m Confiscation Order.

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday, ex-solicitor Rodney Whiston-Dew was ordered to serve a further eight years and nine months in jail after failing to pay back £2.7m of his gains from a fake ‘green’ investment scheme.

Mr Whiston-Dew, 71, a former President of the Rotary Club of London, was originally convicted and sentenced in 2017 with four others, all of them Oxbridge-educated, of cheating the public revenue.

Two years later, the Crown Prosecution Service successfully applied to the court for Mr Whiston-Dew, of Woking, Surrey, to pay back £3,035,192.97 of his gains, reduced to £2,732,788.96 by the court in October 2023. The total amount owing is currently £3,463,224.11 with interest.

After paying back just over £70,409.56, the CPS took him to City of London Magistrates’ Court on 24 November, for non-payment of the full amount and requested the District Judge activate an additional prison sentence instead.

The fraudsters told their investors that their money would be spent on research and development in carbon credits, attracting more than £65m from investors who pumped money into the ‘green’ scheme. However, only £16m of this was spent on planting trees.

The ‘green investment’ scam conned many wealthy people out of at least £65m in total. Victims included comedians, sports stars and the families of politicians.

The group stole £20m of investors’ money and laundered it via bank accounts and secret trusts, spending it on luxury properties in London, Australia, and Dubai as well as hidden offshore investments. They also failed to pay around £6.5m in tax.

Rodney Whiston-Dew was originally convicted in November 2017 of a conspiracy to cheat the public revenue. He was sentenced to a total of 10 years’ imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director.

Adrian Foster, chief crown prosecutor of the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, said: “Rodney Whiston-Dew failed to pay back the £2.7m that he owed, so the CPS have returned him to court and now he has had an additional default sentence of eight years and nine months imprisonment on top of his original sentence.

“We worked with HMRC to make sure he did not benefit from the proceeds of his crime, but he has only paid back a paltry amount of his available assets.

“Even when fraudsters are convicted and sentenced the CPS will continue to robustly pursue them for the money they owe, or they risk remaining in prison for many more years if they fail to pay their order in full.”

Two of Mr Whiston-Dew’s fellow fraudsters, Evdoros Demetriou and Michael Richards, were returned to prison in 2021 to serve an additional 9 and 6 years in prison for failing to pay back £4.6m and £9.9m respectively. In total, all five offenders were told to repay £20.6m.

The CPS said that in the last five years from 2018 to 2023, over £480m has been recovered from CPS obtained Confiscation Orders. Some £105m of that amount has been returned to victims of crime as compensation.