‘Boiler Room Banker’ Sent to Prison

A man who set up accounts for funds from a “boiler room” share scam has been jailed for four-and-a-half years after being convicted of three counts of money laundering.

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Michael McInerney acted as banker for fraudulent share sales instigated by Tomas Wilmot, Kevin Wilmot, and Christopher Wilmot who controlled a syndicate of boiler rooms that defrauded an estimated 1,700 investors of £27.5 million ($44.6 million) in total.

Mr. McInerney, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, was sentenced after a trial at Southwark Crown Court, which was held after a joint investigation by the Financial Services Authority and City of London Police.

Tomas Wilmot was jailed last year for nine years, while his sons Kevin and Christopher were sentenced to five years each, after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

Early on in their scam, the Wilmots put the proceeds of their fraudulent sales in two UK bank accounts in the south-east, where they were based.

In late 2005, however, they decided to put some distance between themselves and the money, and Mr. McInerney was brought in.

He opened bank accounts for three different companies that were purportedly for property management purposes but were actually set up to receive the proceeds of boiler-room fraud.

Tracey McDermott, the FSA’s acting director of enforcement and financial crime, said: “This is another key step in our continuing fight against the serious threat to consumers that is share fraud. McInerney played a key role in the Wilmots’ complex and elaborate con, and he is now paying a very heavy price for doing so.”

Those operating share frauds, commonly known as “boiler rooms”, usually contact investors by telephone and use high-pressure sales tactics to con them into buying non-tradable, overpriced or even non-existent shares. Boiler rooms can be unauthorized, overseas-based companies with bogus UK addresses and phone lines routed abroad.

The FSA said last week that it was contacting 76,732 people to let them know they were targets for fraudsters trying to con them out of their money.

The prosecution of Mr. McInerney was brought by the fraud prosecution division of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Last week, David Green, the new director of the Serious Fraud Office, signaled that his agency was not interested in investigating boiler-room scams, but wanted to focus on significant strategic targets.