Just when you thought you’d heard the last of jailed tax consultant Deborah Annells, at least until her next court appearance later this year, an intriguing postscript to her recent trial has emerged.
JIm Sutherland who was a prosecution witness in the Annells trial is himself now on trial at Southwark Crown Court in London. Sutherland is the chairman of Zetland Fiduciary Group which had drawn up a memorandum of understanding agreeing to buy Annells’ company AzureTax for HK$1 million. This figure was subsequently changed to US$1 million in a forged document that was found in her possession.
Sutherland is being tried together with Jack Flader who also has a Hong Kong connection. In 2007 he founded a Hong Kong-based company-services business, Global Consultants and Services Ltd, which has been named in court proceedings as being instrumental in the disappearance in 2009 of A$120 million that was invested in a hedge fund called Astarra Strategic.
Sutherland and Flader are charged with one count of entering into or becoming concerned in a money-laundering arrangement, contrary to Section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The offences are thought to have occurred between 2003 and 2008.
According to the the Serious Fraud Office’s website, this trial arises from previous investigations which resulted in two boiler room trials involving nine individuals.
These two trials relate to the mis-selling of shares of US companies which turned out be more or less worthless. Some US$108 million and £6 million was lost by investors based in the UK.
The trial of Sutherland and Flader, according to the SFO, centres on the money laundering arrangements by which the distribution of the funds was achieved.
Sutherland was also indirectly linked to Pacific Continental Securities which collapsed in 2007 with losses estimated at £300 million making it one of the biggest UK stockbroking scandals in recent years. Pacific Continental’s shares were owned by a Delaware company and controlled by Zetland Financial Group which was registered in the British Virgin Islands, and was ultimately owned by Sutherland.