Fraud boss gets jail term reduced

A company chief who took £2.5m from investors to support his own business has had his sentence cut.

Steven Higham, 54, of Hillmorton Road, Rugby, Warks, was managing director of Nottingham-based Oaktree Financial Services, when he stole from clients.

He admitted fraudulent trading at and was jailed for six years. That has now been cut to five.

The judge at the London’s Court of Appeal said on Thursday the new sentence reflected his guilty plea.

Mrs Justice Rafferty – sitting with Mr Justice Mackay – said Higham had acted “quite disgracefully”, and had “shattered the lives” of those who used his services.

She said many who invested through him were attracted by the lure of “safe” financial projects, hoping these would help safeguard their retirements.

One of his victims had cancer, and invested £500,000 to provide financial security for his wife when he died.

Mrs Justice Rafferty said Higham had “lost everything” due to his crimes, including his marriage.

He was forced to sell his possessions and properties to fend off creditors and to meet a £500,000 compensation judgement delivered against him.

He had “destroyed the dreams” of those he exploited, said the judge. His motive was not outright greed, but the wish to “generate revenue” for his failing company.

Money given to him for investment never reached the intended investment schemes, but was simply paid into the company accounts, the court heard.

Judge Michael Stokes told the Nottingham hearing it was one of the worst cases of its type he had heard.

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