Anglesey couple sentenced over fraud which funded 'lavish' lifestyle

The couple, from Anglesey, spent the money on lavish hotels and shopping, Birmingham Crown Court today (16 December). Credit: Daily Post Wales

A couple from Anglesey have been sentenced for their involvement in a multi-million-pound fraud of investors, which helped him and his wife lead a "lavish" lifestyle.

Rhys Williams, 41, was found to have £530,000 in criminal property, and his wife Lisa, 40, had £120,000 unlawfully.The couple, from Anglesey, spent the money on lavish hotels and shopping, Birmingham Crown Court today (16 December).

Rhys Williams admitted two charges of possessing criminal property and one charge of making false representation, while Lisa Williams pleaded guilty to one charge of possessing criminal property.

The couple used people's money to fund their 'lavish' lifestyle. Credit: Daily Post Wales

Mr Williams had run a nursing home from 2004 until 2010, when his company Rhys Williams Developments Ltd collapsed. He was made bankrupt and moved with his family to Spain.

Mrs Williams became a 50% shareholder in the firm CWLJ Global Ltd with a Jason Curtis. It had Australian, US and sterling bank accounts, which were controlled by another man in Dubai.

Investors put about £25m into CWLJ and other firms with the promise of “astronomical” profits or their money back.But prosecutor Andrew Haslam KC told the court the investors’ money was not traded in order to grow but was used by the fraudsters.

The court heard that pay-outs to investors on “profits” were made with the investors' own money on occasions. Even the FBI became aware of some of the activities.Michael McVicar, one of the victims, thought Mr Williams was in “day to day control of his funds” with “regular correspondence”. But the court heard the couple bought an Audi Q7 for £60,000 and transferred £29,000 to Mrs Williams’ sister.

The prosecutor added: “The rest of the money was spent living the high life in Spain. They had spent all of the money within a couple of months.”This included £46,000 on shopping, £9,000 in restaurants and nightclubs, £7,000 on holiday accommodation and £7,000 on an international school in Malaga “presumably for their children's education”.The couple also transferred a further £63,700 to family members including Mrs Williams’ father, her father-in-law and her sister. The court heard Mr McVicar transferred £179,000 to CWLJ in 2014, but CWLJ transferred it to Mrs Williams’ Barclays bank account.The couple then spent almost all of it within seven months, with only £688 left. This included spending £5,873.97 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the United Arab Emirates on April 22, 2014.By 2017, the couple were renting two villas in southern Spain. One property in Marbella, which was called La Quinta, was a six-bedroom mansion with “stunning views”, the court heard. When Mr McVicar challenged Mr Williams, he told Mr McVicar he had spent the money on expensive living.In a victim statement, Mr McVicar said the couple continue to live a fine life, including with a maid, a nanny and private education.

Rhys and Lisa Williams were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court. Credit: Daily Post Wales

Mr McVicar added: “They squander their stolen funds for all to see. They can destroy other people’s lives yet continue to live their reprehensible lives with no accountability.” Lee Marklew KC, defending Mr Williams, played down his client’s involvement and for more time for Mr Williams to repay £648,998. He said he hadn’t met Mr McVicar until 2016, after others had offended against him, and there was “no evidence he had knowledge of the facts of the wider fraud”, which the court has heard involved some £25m overall with multiple defendants.

He said Mr Williams had had a “flair for mathematics” and became a “self-made millionaire by his mid twenties”. But, by the time he was 29 in 2010, he suffered “bad debt and bad luck” and remains an undischarged bankrupt. He has since worked in Dubai and Spain.But Mr Marklew added: “The source of his criminality was…an overwhelming desire to save face and provide for those around him in the way he had once done. Some may say he offended from sheer avarice but I submit it may well have been more intricate (after) the body blows from the demise of his business..”His Honour Judge Carr jailed Mr Williams for a total of nine years for possession of £349,998 in criminal property, possession of £179,000 in criminal property, and fraud by false representation.The court heard how Lisa Williams had a bank account which was needed to launder proceeds from her husband's crimes. But prosecutor Mr Haslam said: "This defendant rather than Rhys Williams seems to have spent the money."

She was motivated by financial gain leading to "indulgent and gratuitous spending" of the proceeds. It was "lavish" spending at a time when Mr McVicar had already lost £1 million to other offenders and was at his most vulnerable, the court heard.

Her barrister, Christopher Millington KC, insisted she thought payments from her husband were legitimate earnings from his work apart from one. She was "devastated and ashamed" of her offending, he added.His Honour Judge Carr gave Mrs Williams a 16-month jail term, suspended for two years, saying there was no evidence there was direct contact between Mrs Williams and Mr McVicar. The funds went through her bank account at her husband's request. She must also do 20 days of rehabilitation activity. She must also do 20 days of rehabilitation activity.