Former finance firm CEO spared jail after breaching restraint order on assets

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The former chief executive of a collapsed finance firm has been spared jail after spending thousands on luxuries while his assets were restrained under a court order.

Michael Thomson, also known as Andy Thomson, had his assets restrained under a court order in March 2019 as the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigated the collapse of London Capital & Finance – where Thomson had been CEO – which resulted in 11,000 investors affected and £230 million in losses.

The 50-year-old admitted accessing and spending around £95,000 while his assets were restrained.

According to the SFO, he funnelled money into his wife’s unrestrained bank account and spent around £5,000 on a holiday in Italy, £4,000 each on a hot tub and on horse saddles, £3,000 at Next and £1,000 each on a horse-truck conversion and a hotel stay.

Judge Alexander Milne KC said the breaches each amounted to contempt of court.

He added that court orders should not be “set aside or disregarded” but “respected and observed”.

The judge took into account delays in proceedings, Thomson’s compliance and cooperation with authorities since the breaches and his mental health to conclude that he should be given a suspended sentence.

Catherine Collins, for the SFO, told the court that Thomson committed the first breach when he sought a refund for stamp duty in January 2020 and directed the money, some £55,000, into his wife’s unrestrained account.

The second breach occurred months later in June when Thomson made an insurance claim after reporting damage to an outbuilding and directed around £40,000 from insurers into his wife’s account, initially claiming the money was spent on DIY repairs.

Ms Collins said: “The reality is that he spent the money obtained through these two sources on himself.”

Genevieve Reed, for Thomson, said the outbuilding was damaged in a storm and that the incident was “unexpected” and “not something that was planned by Mr Thomson in a bid to extract money”.

She argued that her client is a man of good character who has a partner, children and grandchildren who rely on him and that he admitted the breaches and complied with authorities since breaching the order.

SFO director Lisa Osofsky said: “Today’s result makes clear: company executives are not above the law.

“When they break it, we have the means and the resolve to go after their money, no matter where they hide it.”

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