A former St James’s Place (SJP) adviser has been jailed for defrauding clients of more than £800,000 to fund his gambling addiction.
Mark Pickering was sentenced to 40 months in prison after he was found guilty of defrauding clients to place bets with Betfair in an account which accrued nearly £1.1 million of losses, the Nottingham Post reports.
Judge James Sampson said eight clients were defrauded of £844,000 over a three-year period.
SJP has reimbursed all of the clients affected by Pickering’s actions. It is now pursuing him through the civil courts to reclaim this money as well as £100,000 of costs it incurred through the case.
A spokesman for SJP said: ‘In July 2016, we discovered serious misconduct by an adviser associated with the company. We immediately terminated his contract and passed all evidence and information to Nottinghamshire Police to assist their investigation.
‘A small number of people were affected and SJP immediately engaged with each individual in order to take action to ensure they were not financially disadvantaged in any way.’
During sentencing judge Sampson said Pickering had taken advantage of SJP’s name and his clients’ trust to convince them to hand over money.
‘Not only did they trust you, they probably trusted the company name. You were a financial adviser from a highly reputable company,’ he said.
‘You in effect stole from them just shy of £1 million. These were significant sums of money, hard earned money, and no doubt when this came to light, the worry was great and the distress was great.’
Speaking in mitigation, Kevin Waddingham said the fraud only became apparent when Pickering told SJP about his gambling problem.
‘It appears the pull of his addiction to gambling was strong but the guilt was even stronger,’ Waddingham said.
Walmsley, C. (2017). Ex-SJP wealth adviser jailed for £800k client gamble. [online] CityWire. Available at: http://citywire.co.uk/wealth-manager/news/ex-sjp-wealth-adviser-jailed-for-800k-client-gamble/a1061190 [Accessed 29 Mar. 2018].