Sunderland Echo Investigative Articles
The Sunderland Echo in the UK published a series of investigative articles from July 1999 to the present about the “Wearside Missing Millions“. These articles are presented in kirkkoskella.com chronological order for our readers.
An Echo Investigation Into Sun – 2 July 1999
A figure of 30million has been suggested by investors and their solicitors, who now say they believe their money has gone forever, after it was placed in the hands of Anthony Heald – often literally, in large bundles of cash.The figures are enormous – but no more enormous than the impact on the lives of small investors like 69-year-old Sunderland widow Edna Nash, and Malcolm and Anne Foster, a disabled couple. They knew Mr Heald as a little boy from the same part of Hendon where they still live, and were happy that he was making a success of his own firm, Mentor Financial and Investment Consultants, based at 33 Norfolk Street.
So they had no hesitation in choosing him as their financial adviser when they wanted to invest their life savings. They trusted him. Mrs Nash invested the 18,000 nest-egg which her husband Alan had worked “all the hours God sent” to create before he died 17 years ago. She relied on it to pay for her holidays, pay her clothing catalogue, and buy treats for herself and her grandchildren which she could not afford out of her pension. The Fosters invested their 25,000 life-savings; money saved by Mr Foster before he suffered a stroke which paralysed his left side, and compensation paid to Mrs Foster when a serious back injury stopped her working. The Fosters needed it to buy a new bungalow because of their disabilities. Mrs Nash handed her money over in 1986 and says Mr Heald told her it was invested in a managed fund and in property, and paid her a monthly interest cheque of 200. But in 1990, Mr Heald said he could issue cheques only twice a year, said Mrs Nash. The amounts immediately shrunk, and by 1996 she says they stopped altogether.
Her family were all highly sceptical, but she said: “I never would have a word said against him.”Unable to contact Mr Heald, she asked about legal aid to engage a solicitor to pursue him, but was told: “I couldnt have it because my pension was 86p over the limit! “Then, in June 1997 a letter came from his Liverpool-based solicitors, J Keith Park & Co, asking for details of what she was owed, to include in a list of creditors. Almost exactly a year later they sent her a cheque for 1,000. She rang to ask where the rest of her money was – to be told that no creditors list existed any more.
She now believes her money has gone forever, and in desperation agreed to support a bankruptcy petition started by a Sunderland business investor against Mr Heald. The petition was rejected by a judge on a “technicality”, and the case is now going to the Appeal Court. When she was contacted by the Echo, Mrs Nash, who is still reluctant to speak angrily of Mr Heald, said: “I couldnt believe it, that someone was actually interested in it. As far as I knew, there was nothing else I could do.” Mrs Nash says she did not go to the police because she didnt realise it could be a criminal matter.
The Fosters story is equally emotive, and told by 54-year-old Mr Foster and his 51-year-old wife with anger. They invested in September and October 1995, but received only two unsigned receipts.”He would only take cash,” said Mr Foster. “He said the things he was investing in had to be very quick, and the person doing it had to have cash. I took him by face value. He was someone wed known years.” When they wanted to know how their money was doing, they say Mr Heald would visit, produce his lap-top computer, type in their details, and tell them all was well. But when they wanted to retrieve their money and called the Mentor office, the Fosters say Mr Heald claimed he had a delay in getting the money out of the “special banks” where he had it deposited and then became uncontactable.
They say their telephone calls were never returned, and they then learned some alarming “facts” from one of Mr Healds other investors – a local businessman. He claimed Mr Heald had been arrested, but released and fled to southern Ireland, where the Fosters traced Mr Healds accountant in County Cork, Tim McSweeney, and they contacted him. After demanding their money and threatening legal action, they received two interim payments totalling about 8,000, but say the rest of their money is still outstanding.
Their contact with Mr McSweeney took a sinister turn when he agreed to meet them, along with various other investors, to compile a list of Mr Healds creditors. For the Fosters say when they finally met in the lobby of the Friendly Hotel, at Boldon, Mr McSweeney told them he had been threatened by a man with a gun. Anne said: “He turned round and said: Ive just had an idiot in here with a gun to my head, and I told him to pull the f***ing trigger and nobody will get anything, because Ive had enough.”He said if he knew what he was getting into, he would never have done it. He was being genuine. Its a funny thing about Tim McSweeney, but weve always thought hes been as straight with us as he could be, in the circumstances.”` Hit men and the trail of debt WHEN ordinary people speak of people chasing debts with guns, it may sound like exaggerated gossip, but it is not to be taken so lightly. For the theme of violence and underworld dealings seems to run through the Anthony Heald affair. Even Echo investigators have been warned of the personal risks involved. An affidavit we have obtained suggests the police took the issue seriously enough to believe that Mr Healds life was at risk, and that it may remain at risk. It was sworn by Mr Healds Liverpool solicitor, Peter Rigby, of J Keith Park & Co, and was presented to Sunderland County Court, as the reason why Mr Heald should be excused from giving his address in open court during bankruptcy proceedings. Mr Rigbys affidavit claims that Mr Heald suffered threats and attacks on his former home in East Boldon (VanBrugh House in Front Street which, according to official records, Mr Heald has now sold). According to Mr Rigby, tins of paint and metal bolts were thrown through the windows, skips and rubbish were dumped outside, and his front door was “attacked with a machete” – all alleged to be inspired by creditors.Mr Healds wife, Julie, and their young twin daughters were also allegedly being followed. The affidavit says that “local police” told Mr Heald they believed his life was in danger from two criminal “bounty hunters” who had been “offering their services” to retrieve creditors money, for a fee. Mr Rigbys statement goes on to say that the police became so concerned about Mr Healds safety, and that of his associate Gordon Spedding, that the Northumbria Police Regional Crime Squad invited them both to a meeting in early 1996. The affidavit says: “At that meeting Mr Heald was offered police protection. They told Mr Heald that their intelligence sources had led them to believe that there was a contract out on Mr Heald, but they believed that this was probably not from clients but more likely the bounty hunters.” The affidavit claims that two named individual creditors – both local businessmen – even arranged for a team from a detective agency employing ex-SAS and Special Boat Services “operatives” to travel to Ireland “to threaten Mr Heald”. But it claims these men were “apprehended by the Irish Police at the airport, kept in custody, interviewed and then sent back to the UK”. It says police even interviewed one of the businessmen about the alleged illegal tapping of Mr Healds telephones. The offer of protection, according to the affidavit, was refused by Mr Heald, because he had decided he was going to stay in hiding in Ireland full-time, and move his family there. But the affidavit claims two more local businessmen were later “approached by people from Germany” who claimed to be able to get their money back.” This has been reported to the police and as a result the police have stepped up their protection and surveillance for Mr Gordon Spedding,” said the affidavit. It added that such was the concern for the safety of the ex-policeman that Northumbria Police arranged for his telephones to be monitored and his house to have “ultra-high frequency alarms installed by the police which link to police armed response units.” Yet even this does not seem to deal fully with the polices involvement – for investors claim direct knowledge that Mr Heald himself was under investigation. One Sunderland businessman who says he has lost 40,000 claims that he and other creditors visited Mr Healds house in the summer of 1996, to confront him about their missing money – and found he had just been released after being arrested by police. The businessman (who declines to be identified by the Echo, but has given us permission to pass his name to the police) claims Mr Heald said he had been arrested the previous day, but that he would not be charged. A second indication of police inquiries into Mr Heald comes from another Sunderland businessman (who also asked for anonymity, but is prepared to be named to the police). He claims to have invested about 300,000 in stocks and shares, and told the Echo that he was visited by a detective inspector from Northumbria Police fraud squad about 18 months ago, at his business premises in Sunderland. According to him, the officer (whose name he has given to the Echo) wanted to know about Mr Healds financial dealings, and possible associates.The businessman said he formed the impression that the police were investigating a possible link between Mr Heald and suspected criminal offences. Meanwhile, a solicitor acting for a Sunderland businessman (who says he has lost 165,000 and has launched bankruptcy proceedings against Mr Heald) says he finds the official police attitude strange. He says previous statements by Northumbria Police that they had received no complaints about Mr Heald were untrue when they were made, and says both he and his client complained formally three years ago. He says his client only launched bankruptcy proceedings after getting no police response. “Police inactivity was one of the reasons my client decided he wanted us to pursue legal action against Mr Heald,” he said. The solicitor said he found it “beyond belief” that the police had done so little and added: “I know they had a complaint from my client, and I know other complaints have been made.” It makes me believe that there is more to this than meets the eye. Ive constantly badgered and chased the police and Serious Fraud Office since 96/97, but weve really turned away from that now because we really dont believe theyre going to do anything about it.” The solicitor also asked that neither he nor his client – who we have also interviewed – be identified in the Echo, but is willing to be named to the police. Calls to Mr Healds Liverpool-based solicitors J Keith Park and Co were unanswered.`Have you invested money with Anthony Heald or had any dealings with this affair? If you have and would like to share it, contact either Paul Taylor or Patrick Lavelle in confidence, through the Echo newsdesk, on 0191-501 5800.Attribution: An Echo Investigation Into Sun. Sunderland Echo 02 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/an-echo-investigation-into-sun-1-1073842 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Wear Savers Lose Millions – 2 July 1999And an Echo investigation can disclose that a business associate of Anthony Heald, also involved in the cash-making scheme run by Mr Healds now defunct company Mentor Financial and Investment Consultants, was a former Northumbria Police officer. “Bounty hunters” – hired former SAS soldiers, and reputed gangsters from both London and Germany – were on the trail of Mr Heald to try to recover cash.Mr Heald, from East Boldon, and his business associate Gordon Spedding, a former Wearside-based police officer, were both offered protection by the North East Regional Crime Squad. But investors say that Northumbria Police have not taken taken their claims of serious financial mismangement by Mr Heald and Mr Spedding seriously enough. Investors say they have been fighting for about three years to try to get their money back – sums ranging from 18,000 to 300,000. Our inquiries have unearthed evidence that former police officers invested in Mr Healds cash-making scheme, as well as several local business people and ordinary Wearsiders. A statement sworn on Mr Healds behalf by his Liverpool-based solicitor says police protection was offered to Mr Heald and Mr Spedding because of reports “there was a contract out on Mr Heald” and the contract may have been issued by underworld figures. But less than a year later, in September, 1996, Mr Heald was struck off by the financial watchdog Fimbra after an investigation revealed he had been taking investments in cash when he was not authorised by Fimbra to handle money directly. The Echo investigation reveals investors in Mr Healds scheme include: A former police officer, who does not wish to be named, who says he invested 50,000. A Sunderland businessman who says he lost 165,000 and both he and his solicitor made complaints to Northumbria Police.A 69-year-old Sunderland widow who invested 18,000 and claims she is still owed 16,000. A disabled Sunderland couple who say they invested 25,000 and are still owed about 17,000.A Sunderland businessman who says he invested 300,000 and has yet to recover the bulk of his money. A Sunderland businessman who says he is owed 40,000. Mr Heald fled to County Cork, southern Ireland, and The Echo tracked down his former accountant, Timothy McSweeney, who also lives in County Cork and worked for him for 12 months. Mr McSweeney said he dealt with 40 of Mr Healds clients, mostly from Wearside, during 1996/97, but he was now no more than a personal friend who took calls on Mr Healds behalf. He said five of the 40 clients had got their money back, but would not identify them. He said he is still in constant contact with Mr Heald, but Mr Heald would not wish to answer any questions from the Echo. Mr McSweeney confirmed Mr Spedding was a “business associate” of Mr Heald and a former police officer. He estimated that about 5million was still owed and confirmed that he had been threatened by a creditor with a gun. He said the promise made by Mr Heald of a substantial return on clients investments was unrealistic and he denied Mr Heald had fled to County Cork because of threats of violence.” He likes the country”, he said. He said claims about the scandal were “unbelievable” and added: “I think the people in Sunderland are very parochial and certain myths have grown up around this story.” He said he “expected” clients would get their capital back, but no interest.Northumbria Police refused to answer detailed questions, but a spokesman said: “Northumbria Police is monitoring the position. We are talking with a number of creditors, liaising with the Financial Services Authority and are in regular contact with the Serious Fraud Office.” Attribution: Wear Savers Lose Millions Sunderland Echo 02 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/wear-savers-lose-millions-1-1096405 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nine More Reveal Losses of Savings – 6 July 1999Eight belong to a business consortium in the city and have had no cash returned after investing almost 210,000 and the ninth, a sole investor, a 49-year-old man from Hendon, gave Mr Heald 12,000 but has had some of it paid back.An Echo investigation revealed that Mr Heald, from East Boldon, had fled to southern Ireland owing at least 5million to investors in the North East, mainly Wearsiders, who had put hard cash into his Mentor Investment Scheme.Our inquiries revealed that Mr Heald, who ran his business from Norfolk Street, Sunderland, was helped by a “business associate”, Gordon Spedding, a former Northumbria Police officer.Mr Heald, from East Boldon, fled to Ireland after threats from creditors, claiming he was on the run from underworld contract killers and “bounty hunters”.Since the Echos disclosures, 14 investors have come foward to tell how they were persuaded by Mr Heald, whom they describe as “a charmer” and “plausible”, to join the Mentor scheme.He promised them at least 10 per cent return on their investments, but all are waiting for a return on their cash and most now say they would be happy with just their capital repaid.A spokesman for the consortium of eight said today: “We gave him our life savings and he assured us, time and time again, that our capital was safe. He has had our money a long time and we could have invested it elsewhere, earning interest.”The spokesman said he and his wife had invested 66,000 in Mr Healds Mentor scheme over 15 years. “We trusted him,” he said. He added that Northumbria Police appeared to have not taken investors claims seriously enough.The couple have been told by the Financial Services Authority that Mr Healds firm does have enough money to settle their claim. But they have had to spend more than 900 on legal fees alone trying to get their cash back.Members of the consortium have been told they cannot get compensation for their losses and will have to pursue Mr Heald for the return of their investment capital. Mr Healds former accountant, Timothy McSweeney, has said he expects investments will be returned, but without interest.The names of those in the business consortium will be forwarded to police.`THE WEARSIDE “missing millions” scandal took a new twist today when another nine local business people revealed they have lost thousands investing in Anthony Healds “easy money” scheme.Eight belong to a business consortium in the city and have had no cash returned after investing almost 210,000 and the ninth, a sole investor, a 49-year-old man from Hendon, gave Mr Heald 12,000 but has had some of it paid back.An Echo investigation revealed that Mr Heald, from East Boldon, had fled to southern Ireland owing at least 5million to investors in the North East, mainly Wearsiders, who had put hard cash into his Mentor Investment Scheme.Our inquiries revealed that Mr Heald, who ran his business from Norfolk Street, Sunderland, was helped by a “business associate”, Gordon Spedding, a former Northumbria Police officer.Mr Heald, from East Boldon, fled to Ireland after threats from creditors, claiming he was on the run from underworld contract killers and “bounty hunters”.Since the Echos disclosures, 14 investors have come foward to tell how they were persuaded by Mr Heald, whom they describe as “a charmer” and “plausible”, to join the Mentor scheme.He promised them at least 10 per cent return on their investments, but all are waiting for a return on their cash and most now say they would be happy with just their capital repaid.A spokesman for the consortium of eight said today: “We gave him our life savings and he assured us, time and time again, that our capital was safe. He has had our money a long time and we could have invested it elsewhere, earning interest.”The spokesman said he and his wife had invested 66,000 in Mr Healds Mentor scheme over 15 years. “We trusted him,” he said. He added that Northumbria Police appeared to have not taken investors claims seriously enough.The couple have been told by the Financial Services Authority that Mr Healds firm does have enough money to settle their claim. But they have had to spend more than 900 on legal fees alone trying to get their cash back.Members of the consortium have been told they cannot get compensation for their losses and will have to pursue Mr Heald for the return of their investment capital. Mr Healds former accountant, Timothy McSweeney, has said he expects investments will be returned, but without interest.The names of those in the business consortium will be forwarded to police. Attribution: Nine More reveal Losses of Savings Sunderland Echo 6 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/nine-more-reveal-losses-of-sav-1-1087213 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
New Move Could Help Reveal Fat – 7 July 1999The businessman, whose solicitor declines to name him, sued for bankruptcy against one of the partners in the Mentor investment company, which is selling its now-closed offices in Norfolk Street, claiming he and others were owed 610,000.Robert Lindley, from Ellington, near Ashington, Northumberland, was the partner of Sunderland man Anthony Heald in Mentor.But Lindley was made bankrupt – which now makes it possible to find out what he and Heald did with investors money. As partners, both men are legally equally responsible.Bankruptcy trustee Ian Brown, of chartered accountants Deloitte and Touche, has been appointed to investigate the debts, with the power of the courts behind him to force disclosure of the facts, and is preparing to track down the Mentor millions.Today, the solicitor acting for him (and for the local businessman in the bankruptcy case) urged all investors to contact Mr Brown, and add their name to the creditors list.John Pennie, of Newcastle law firm Dickinson Dees, said the more people who joined the list of creditors, the greater would be Mr Browns power to investigate the case.”My feeling is that at the moment there are perhaps scores of investors who have lost money,” said Mr Pennie.”The value of making Lindley bankrupt is that it allows those people to progress their claims against Mentor.”I would suggest that it is in their best interests now to write to Mr Brown – not to me – and to provide him with all the paperwork they have to prove their claim, because that is now a legal option with considerable force.”Last week an Echo investigation revealed that investors across Wearside were among people across the whole region who have lost a total of anything from 5million upwards, after investing it with Anthony Heald and his associates.We also revealed how one of those associates, former Washington man Gordon Spedding, is an ex-policeman – but that despite police officers being among the investors and complaints being made, Northumbria Police have seemed reluctant to investigate.Deloitte and Touche are at Gainsborough House, 34-40 Grey Street, Newcastle, NE1 6AE. The telephone number is 0191-261 4111. Attribution: New Move Could Help Reveal Fat Sunderland Echo 7 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/new-move-could-help-reveal-fat-1-1086919 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Investors Tell of Financial Ruin – 10 July 1999A dossier of evidence on the Wearside Missing Millions. But the total amount handed to Sunderland businessman Anthony Heald and his associates might never be known, as some investors are reluctant to come forward because they are embarrassed about losing cash, or secretive about their financial affairs.The dossier includes the names of investors from an area stretching from Tyneside to County Durham and 22 are from Sunderland – where Mr Heald concentrated his financial dealings working from an office in Norfolk Street. The investors who have contacted the Echo in the last few days include:A 61-year-old retired miner from Sunderland who invested 28,000 – his redundancy money.A 52-year-old single man from Sunderland who gave Mr Heald 30,000 – money bequeathed to him by his parents. A retired Sunderland teacher who gave Mr Heald 60,000 to invest and has only had 2,600 returned. The former teacher said: “I always thought I had planned to do whatever I wanted. But I had to go back into teaching and now, if I have to go into a retirement home, I will be snookered, financially.”The single man, who had only 7,240 returned, said: “I must have been mad to hand over money like that; money left to me by my parents. If they knew about this they would turn in their graves.”Mr Heald, from East Boldon, fled to southern Ireland owing investors anything from 5million up to 30million and claimed he was on the run from bounty hunters and contract killers hired by angry creditors. The Echo has so far discovered the names of 32 investors owed 2,353,225. We intend to hand their names, and other evidence resulting from our inquiries, to Sunderland south MP Chris Mullin – in whose constituency many investors live.Investors who put hard cash into Mr Healds Mentor Investment Scheme included former police officers. A “business associate” who helped Mr Heald run the scheme, the Echo discovered, was Gordon Spedding, a former police officer. Attribution: Investors Tell of Financial Ruin Sunderland Echo 10 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/investors-tell-of-financial-ru-1-1083711 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Police Under Fire In Cash Probe – 12 July 1999Sunderland south MP Chris MullMr Mullin has written to Northumbrias Chief Constable Crispian Strachan after he was presented with a dossier of Echo evidence naming 32 investors who have lost more than 2,300,000 in cash.The MP is asking what relationship, if any, the police may have had in the past with the man at the centre of the scandal, Anthony Heald, from East Boldon, who has fled to southern Ireland claiming he is on the run from contract killers.Mr Heald, the former boss of Sunderland-based Mentor Financial Investment Consultants, which had offices in Norfolk Street, fled owing investors at least 5million and possibly as much as 30million.He was helped in his Mentor Investment Scheme by business associate Gordon Spedding, a former police officer.At least two investors made formal complaints to Northumbria Police and the Serious Fraud Office over two years ago, relating to more than 600,000 which has vanished. Yet only two other investors, out of about 20 the Echo has interviewed so far, say they have been interviewed by police – and none have been asked to give formal statements.We handed a list of 32 investors we know about, ranging from private citizens who lost most of their modest life savings, to local businessmen who have lost huge sums, to Mr Mullin at the weekend.Many of the investors are the MPs own constituents – and among them is a handful of former police officers.Mr Mullin said: “On the basis of what you have told me, it would appear a very serious fraud has been committed, involving large sums of money taken from a large number of people.”I would be very surprised indeed if the police were not taking this seriously, and I shall be writing to the Chief Constable and to the head of the National Crime Squad, to ask how they are getting on with their inquiries.”And since a number of my constituents appear to have been swindled, I propose to take a close interest.”In his letter Mr Mullin says: “I understand there has been an investigation, but it does not seem to have been pursued with any great vigour.”He adds: “I would be grateful to know what steps have been taken so far, and what plans you have to pursue this matter.”I would also be grateful to know what relationship, if any, Mr Heald has had with the police in the past, and whether this has any implications as to the way this matter has so far been investigated.”Northumbria Police has said it is “monitoring” the situation, speaking to investors and the Serious Fraud Office.However, the Echo understands police investigations may have been hampered by the loss of paperwork relating to Mentor Investments believed to have been taken during a burglary at Mr Healds Liverpool-based solicitors office.Has Anthony Heald made an ass of the law? Special report in tomorrows Echo. Attribution: Police Under Fire In Cash Probe Sunderland Echo 12 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/police-under-fire-in-cash-prob-1-1089227 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Conspiracy Theory – 13 July 1999An Echo investigation into theTHE WEARSIDE “missing millions” scandal – with reports of hired hitmen, dirty money, the involvement of former police officers and a mystery burglary at a solicitors office – is the stuff that dreams are made of for conspiracy theorists.And so the theories have grown; from suggestions of IRA involvement through to police corruption and even reports of a cover-up by the intelligence services. The story, like the proverbial Chinese whisper, has grown legs.Anthony Heald fled to southern Ireland owing investors, mainly Wearsiders, at least 5million and possibly as much as 30million. He has claimed he is on the run from contract killers.And throughout an Echo investigation into the scandal one phrase has been repeated time and time again by the investors who have lost thousands of pounds: “Theres more to this than meets the eye.”And so it appears, somewhere within the muddied waters and the smokescreens.Today the Echo reveals one theory about businessman Anthony Heald that could explain how he appears to have made an ass of the law.Two independent sources close to the inquiry have told us that Mr Heald was possibly a valued police informant whose links with the criminal fraternity could have provided such a hefty payback he may have been granted, albeit unofficially, immunity from prosecution.But the big payback, say sources, never materialised. Mr Heald, they say, played the system to great effect. He made promises he couldnt deliver, and left Northumbria Police with more than just egg on their faces.If that theory is correct – and it is the most persuasive to date – it goes some way to explaining why scores of Wearside investors have claimed that police have not taken their claims of serious financial mismanagement by Mr Heald seriously enough.Those claims have been fuelled by two facts. One is that Mr Heald was helped in running his investment scheme by Gordon Spedding, a former police officer, and the second is that former police officers were among the investors.The investors in Healds Mentor scheme fall into four categories:Business people and entrepreneurs attracted by Healds promises of huge returns on their capital.Ordinary Wearsiders who invested their life-savings in Mr Heald because they trusted him with their cash.Former police officers who saw an opportunity for making money.Drug dealers and other criminals who used Mr Heald, it is alleged, to launder their dirty money.The Echo has discovered that Mr Heald may have given a statement to police, for use by the prosecution, in one of the biggest drug cases to emerge on Wearside.John Chisolm, 38, and seven accomplices, were jailed by Newcastle Crown Court for a total of 50 years after a sophisticated police surveillance operation at St Marks Autos in Millfield, Sunderland.A police bugging device showed the gang was dealing in drugs and preparing to set up a direct link to import drugs from Spain.Had they succeeded, said Judge Denis Orde, the gang would have been able to flood the region with both hard and soft drugs on a scale never seen.A source close to the inquiry has told the Echo that Mr Heald gave a statement to police based on claims that he was laundering money for the gang. In the event, Mr Healds statement was not, according to our source, needed in the case.If the drug money claim is true the Wearside “missing millions” includes dirty money, police officers cash and the nest eggs of scores of ordinary Wearsiders.Those behind the dirty money would be unwilling to reveal its source but many ordinary investors have the paperwork to prove their cash was raised legitimately.And it is these investors who claim police and the Serious Fraud Office have done little to help them.A source has revealed that Anthony Heald was arrested and his home raided in connection with the drugs operation – codenamed Operation Mill – at St Marks Autos in Millfield.The Echo has also obtained an affidavit that states both Mr Heald and his business associate Gordon Spedding were offered police protection by the North East Regional Crime Squad.Mr Heald, the source adds, was also regularly seen in the company of one particular police officer who is believed to have acted as his “handler” for information gathering on suspected criminal activity.Northumbria Police have said little about their involvement with Anthony Heald, but stress they are “monitoring” the situation over the Mentor missing millions, talking to investors and liasing with the Serious Fraud Office.It is believed documents relating to the affair may have been stolen during a burglary at Mr Healds Liverpool-based solicitors office in August last year, which has hampered inquiries. Police have confirmed the burglary but refuse to say what was taken.In law theft is described as the dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it. The key to a successful prosecution is proving, beyond any reasonable doubt, the intention to steal.Fraud, in simple language, is a deliberate deceit. Again, the intention to deceive must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The lack of a “paper trail” in the Wearside missing millions scandal is a major obstacle for fraud squad officers.But the beginnings of that paper trail are there in the documents, including receipts, which ordinary Wearside investors hold in relation to Anthony Heald and his Mentor Investment Scheme.Did Anthony Heald intend to steal from investors? Did he set out to deceive? Or did he conspire with others to do both? Was he a shrewd financial whizzkid who got in too deep? Or, as has been suggested, was he a valued police informant who promised much but delivered little?As Sunderland south MP Chris Mullin says, serious questions need to be asked of Northumbria Police in their handling of this affair.In a letter to Northumbrias Chief Constable Crispian Strachan Mr Mullin says: “I understand there has been an investigation, but it does not seem to have been pursued with any great vigour.”I would also be grateful to know what relationship, if any, Mr Heald has had with police in the past, and whether this has any implications as to the way this matter has so far been investigated.”If Anthony Heald, the persuasive and charming financier from East Boldon, was a police informant he appears to have taken everyone for a ride – including the police – and may have made an ass of the law in the process. Attribution: The Conspiracy Theory Sunderland Echo 13 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/the-conspiracy-theory-1-1094133 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Heald May Have Been Drugs Ring – 13 July 1999The former Sunderland financierAnthony Heald was arrested at his former luxury home in East Boldon and his files seized – but he was not charged.And now the Echo can reveal that Northumbria Polices apparent reluctance to properly investigate the Mentor affair may be because it could expose an embarrassing truth behind the decision not to charge him.We have established that Mr Heald was arrested by the forces drugs squad about three years ago, during an inquiry which led to eight men being jailed for a total of more than 50 years.The judge who jailed them said they were one of the most potentially devastating drug gangs in the whole North East, planning to set up a direct supply link with Spain, to flood the region from Tyneside to Teesside.Drugs squad officers believed Mr Heald may have been their banker, investing hundreds of thousands in drug money in offshore accounts.Sources have claimed that Mr Heald assisted the police in their inquiries, possibly by making a statement for use in court, in return for which he was not charged.But an authoritative source suspects that the police then decided to ignore the wider complaints from Mr Healds legitimate investors because they believed he could help them further.Our source suspects, however, that police may have themselves been conned and in fact may have received no further help from Mr Heald – but would now be embarrassed to admit why they failed to act on behalf of honest investors.Sunderland MP Chris Mullin is now pressing Northumbrias Chief Constable, Crispian Strachan, for answers over the Mentor affair and is asking whether Mr Heald did have any previous relationship with the police which may have had a bearing on events.The conspiracy theory: SEE TODAYS FEATURE Attribution: Heald May Have Been Drug Ring Sunderland Echo 13 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/heald-may-have-been-drugs-ring-1-1082457 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ex Partner Turns Up In Moscow – 14 July 1999The complex web of business li…After discovering that the FBI is investigating aspects of the affair and its links to funds invested from the U.S., the Echo has traced a former business partner of one of the key figures in the scandal to his new job – in Moscow.Bill James now works in the Russian capital for KMI Consultants, a firm offering financial services to expatriates around the world. He refused to comment on his former association with Gordon Spedding.Mr James, after answering the phone and confirming his identity, said: “How did you get this number? Ive got no comment.”There is no claim that Mr James was personally responsible for any of the missing money, but he was a partner with Mr Spedding in a firm called SJS Financial Services, which used to be based in Victoria Road, Concord, Washington.They were in business together at the time that investors say they were handing thousands of pounds in cash to Mr Spedding to be invested.Two couples – one in Hexham and the other in Shiney Row – say they invested about 37,000 between them with Mr Spedding. The vast majority has not been repaid.The Shiney Row couple, who asked not to be named, said that after Mr Spedding vanished along with their 27,000, Mr James wrote to them and took over their pensions plan, saying he had separated from Mr Spedding.Mr James worked for one year at Houghton-based chartered accountants Robert Miller & Co, before leaving for his new job – a fact confirmed by Robert Millers practice manager Chris Abbott. At the centre of the “missing millions” scandal are Mr Spedding – a former police officer – and former Sunderland financier Anthony Heald, who ran a company called Mentor Financial Investment Consultants in Norfolk Street, Sunderland.He has left the country, and is now living in southern Ireland, leaving behind investors who say they have lost millions of pounds. The total is estimated at anything upwards of 5million. Attribution: Ex Partner Turns Up In Moscow Sunderland Echo 14 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/ex-partner-turns-up-in-moscow-1-1078852 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
No Evidence To Press Charges – 17 July 1999The sunderland man at the centPolice say they have no evidence for starting criminal proceedings against financier Anthony Heald, who has fled to southern Ireland claiming he is on the run from contract killers.The latest police comment on the affair comes after a total of 32 investors, mainly Wearsiders, claim to have lost more than 2.3million.It also follows comments from Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin that he believes an Echo investigation has unearthed what could possibly be a “serious fraud”.Mr Heald, from East Boldon, ran the Mentor Investment Scheme from his former offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland.Scores of people invested huge sums in the scheme after Mr Heald promised them substantial returns on their capital.An Echo investigation revealed that among the investors were former police officers, as well as criminals who, it is alleged, tried to use Mr Heald to launder their dirty money.And we also revealed that a “business associate”, Gordon Spedding, formerly of Washington, was an ex-police officer.Mr Spedding is also believed to have fled the country after he was subjected to threats and his home in Northumberland vandalised.A spokesman for Northumbria Police said today: “Unless further evidence comes to light we are standing by the position we have agreed with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).”We have taken advice and the advice from their office is that this is a civil matter which creditors will have to pursue through the civil courts.”Mr Mullin has written to Northumbrias Chief Constable Crispian Strachan asking how inquiries are progressing and what relationship Mr Heald may have had with police in the past. Attribution: No Evidence To Press Charges Sunderland Echo 17 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/no-evidence-to-press-charges-1-1087332 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cheques In The Post – 27 July 1999The man at the centre of the “Anthony Heald, from East Boldon, told his former accountant Timothy McSweeney that payments to some, but not all, investors were being posted out today.Mr McSweeney, who is still in regular contact with Mr Heald, said: “He told me payments will be out today.”I took that to mean there will be some payments to a number of investors but not all of them. However, this has been said several times before.”A Sunderland man representing a consortium of eight investors who between them lost more than 140,000 said: “The cash is supposed to have been coming for years and years.”It has always been said that he has enough money to repay the investors and I suppose I have as much chance as anyone else of receiving it.”I think the coverage this story has attracted in the Echo must have made Mr Heald sit up and think.”Mr Heald ran the now defunct Mentor Investment Scheme from offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland, promising investors massive returns.An Echo investigation discovered the names of 33 investors who are owed a total of more than 2.3million by Mr Heald.But estimates suggest Mr Heald owes at least 5million and possibly as much as 30million to people across the North East.Echo inquiries also revealed that a former business associate of Mr Heald, Gordon Spedding, a former police officer, helped him run the Mentor scheme.Among the investors who lost cash were former police officers and criminals who were believed to have been using Mr Heald to launder dirty money. Other investors were ordinary, legitimate, business people.Mr Heald fled to County Cork, southern Ireland, claiming he was on the run from contract killers. Both he and Mr Spedding, while in this region, were offered police protection by the North East Regional Crime Squad.Mr McSweeney, who is based in County Cork, said investors may get their capital back, but no return on their investments.Cheques were being posted out today, he said, by Mr Healds Liverpool-based solicitors J Keith Park and Co. No lawyers at the firm were available for comment.Investors, who have been waiting more than two years for their cash, say Mr Heald should have been prosecuted. Attribution: Cheques In The Post Sunderland Echo 27 July 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/cheques-in-the-post-1-1076773 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Still No Sign Of The Money – 2 August 1999Investors in the Mentor “missiLast Tuesday, we reported that Sunderland financier Anthony Heald had allegedly promised cheques would be posted to some of the investors who say he vanished with their money about three years ago.The promise was relayed by Mr Healds former accountant Tim McSweeney, who says he is in constant touch with Mr Heald in southern Ireland.We rang 10 investors – a third of those we are aware of – and none had received a cheque.Attitudes varied, with most expressing cynicism about the prospect of repayment, but one saying he believed that Mr Heald would try to recover the cash.Our investigations into Mr Heald have so far revealed that he took several million pounds from investors across Wearside, ranging from pensioners to businessmen, and vanished in 1996, since when his creditors have been trying to recover their cash.The money was handed over while he was running the now-defunct Mentor Financial Investment Consultants, from an office in Norfolk Street, Sunderland, and living in his luxury home in East Boldon, which he sold after leaving the country.We also revealed that one of his key business associates was ex-police officer Gordon Spedding, and that several former police officers had invested with Mentor.We also reported that Northumbria Police are accused by many investors of failing to mount a serious fraud inquiry into the case, despite having received complaints more than two years ago. Attribution: Still No Sign Of The Money Sunderland Echo 2 August 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/still-no-sign-of-the-money-1-1092931 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So How Much Evidence Do The Police Have – 13 August 1999Investors across the North EastThey have claimed in their dozens that he conned them out of their cash, yet the police say they are unable to find any evidence of dishonesty which would justify an investigation.But today the Echo can reveal how Anthony Heald took large sums of money from investors and laundered it through other company accounts to avoid detection.We also reveal that his dealing also led to the disappearance of 2.3million from investors in America.And today the Echo asks: “How much evidence do the police need before they pursue an investigation?”PAUL TAYLOR and PATRICK LAVELLE report.IN SEPTEMBER 1996 Anthony Heald and his company, Mentor Financial & Investment Consultants were banned from trading.The ban was imposed by the financial watchdog Fimbra, while it probed claims that Heald was handling investors money without being licensed.But the ban did not stop Heald taking clients money. And he made sure he was not caught, by laundering cash through other company accounts, whose books Fimbra had no reason to check, since they were not finance companies.But Heald left behind a paper trail which shows his deception – and which makes the police refusal to investigate the claims against him even more mystifying.Banking records obtained by the Echo show that in December 1996, while still banned by Fimbra (which finally struck him off in April 1997), he persuaded two clients to hand over 144,130.The money was transferred to the business account of a Tyneside company which had no public connection to Heald or to Mentor.One investor transferred 112,000, while the other handed over 32,130, within days of each other in early December 1996.Both investors have made statements to Northumbria Police fraud squad that they paid the money under Healds instructions, after agreeing to invest with him. They have told the fraud squad they did not know they were participating in anything improper, and have demanded a police investigation – which the police continue to refuse to carry out, claiming lack of evidence.Along with the banking records, the client who handed over 112,000 also gave police a copy of a letter on Mentor-headed paper, bearing Healds signature.It thanks the client for investing with Mentor and confirms receipt of 112,000 the previous day.The second factor which links the transactions to Heald is that company liquidators on the Isle of Man say they have records showing that he used the same Tyneside company to channel huge funds off the island.They say their records show that Heald also used two other companies in what they now believe was a complex “sting”.For it involved persuading a company based on the Isle of Man to hand over 2.3million of American investors cash to Healds network of companies.Richard Jackson, of the liquidation firm Shimmin Wilson & Co, which is now trying to trace the money from the U.S., says the records show that it was transferred to the accounts of three different companies at Healds request.One of the three is the Tyneside company mentioned above, while the second is a company still operating in Sunderland, and the third was registered in southern Ireland until last month – when it was dissolved as the Heald scandal hit the headlines.None of the three had any public connection with Heald or with Mentor. This served, possibly unwittingly on the part of the companies, to keep the flow of money through their accounts hidden from the financial authorities investigating Healds business affairs.The Echo is not naming these companies at this stage, since it is unclear whether any crime was committed in allowing Heald to use their accounts.But the liquidators on the Isle of Man say their records show that the same companies were used by Heald to transfer the 2.3million off the island.”We have paperwork to show that Mentor had requested the money be paid to these three companies,” said Mr Jackson. Mr Jackson also suspects that the Isle of Man company was persuaded to hand over the cash because it had already received payments from Heald, believing it represented a return on investments made with him.But they suspect the money was not interest payments, but was, in fact, cash from North East investors used to create the impression of interest payments. This opinion is supported by our evidence. Banking records we have obtained show that on the day that the 32,130 was paid to the Tyneside company used by Heald, an almost identical amount, 32,100, was transferred from its business account to the company on the Isle of Man.To complicate an already complex affair, Mr Jackson confirmed that the affairs of the Isle of Man company are themselves the subject of an FBI investigation.That inquiry is based on complaints from U.S. investors, mainly in the California area, that they too have been conned.Despite deciding not to name the companies used by Heald, we tried to get comment from the three men who ran them.Neither the boss of the Tyneside company nor the Sunderland company involved have explained their role in moving of money – but the boss of the third company in southern Ireland has commented at some length.He admitted moving about 2million through his accounts during the late summer of 1996, on Healds instructions. He alleges that Heald told him it was money owed to his investors in the North East, by the company based on the Isle of Man.The company boss said he paid out all the money to those investors in the North East and notified the Isle of Man where the cash went, saying that the island-based company never once queried where the money was going.He also said that in his case, the use of a paper company in which there were only two shares owned by him and his wife was “tax-efficient”, but legal.`We need documentary proof, says police chief THE CHIEF Constable of Northumbria Police, Crispian Strachan, says a “great deal of work” was carried out by police to identify investors who have lost cash in the “missing millions” scandal.But he adds: “Any meaningful investigation was also hampered by an absence of original documentation.”In a letter to Sunderland south MP Chris Mullin, who has voiced concerns about the case, Mr Strachan adds: “Put quite simply there is insufficient evidence to warrant further investigation at this time.”If clear evidence of criminality emerges we will reconsider our position in conjunction with the Serious Fraud Office and the Crown Prosecution Service.”The “lack of original documentation” is, basically, the start of a paper trail of evidence, which is critical to any complex fraud inquiry.The Echo has the beginnings of a paper trail, from documents given to us by investors to banking records. We shall make our evidence available to police on request.`CRISPIAN STRACHAN: “If clear evidence of criminality emerges we will reconsider our position…”`Heald left behind a paper trail which shows his deception – and which makes the police refusal to investigate the claims against him even more mystifying Attribution: So How Much evidence Do The Police Have Sunderland Echo 13 August 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/so-how-much-evidence-do-the-po-1-1092383 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Fraud Squad Poised To Investigate – 13 September 1999Northumbria Police fraud squadThree weeks ago, at the squads own request, we handed over a copy of our dossier on the affair of Sunderland financier Anthony Heald.That dossier named 35 investors, all of whom say they invested with Mr Heald and his now-defunct Mentor investment and finance firm, but that he had disappeared with their money.Several of those investors have told the Echo they have made official complaints to the police over the last three years, and gave detectives documented evidence of their dealings with Mr Heald – but had been refused an inquiry.Until we handed our dossier over, most investors had not been contacted by the police.But the head of the squad, Detective Inspector Ben Swanson, said today after discussing the issue with the Serious Fraud Office in London, that the police now plan to contact all the investors in our dossier.”Weve been in contact with the Serious Fraud Office and we will be contacting all the complainants in due course,” he said.Mr Swanson declined to comment further, but the Echo understands that letters were due to be sent to the investors named in our dossier this week.`Efforts to retrieve cash failedsay American cash has also vanished, along with the investments of North East people. Attribution: Fraud Squad Poised To Investigate Sunderland Echo 13 September 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/fraud-squad-poised-to-investig-1-1079994 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Police Launch Inquiry – 16 September 1999After three years facing accusationsPolice plan to interview investors and gather documents on dealings with Sunderland financier Anthony Heald and his now-defunct Mentor Investments firm, but insist they are not launching an official investigation.A spokeswoman said a decision on a formal inquiry would be made only after the mammoth task of interviewing 35 investors, named in an Echo dossier on the affair and passed to the police at their request.Fraud squad boss Det Insp Ben Swanson wrote to investors individually this week, telling them they were on the list we supplied.Our dossier on the Mentor affair was assembled during our own investigation into claims that upwards of 5million vanished after being invested with Mr Heald, or his now-defunct Mentor Investment firm.About half of that cash is accounted for by the 35 investors on our list, who are spread across Tyne and Wear, with the other half accounted for by American investors whose cash has also vanished from the accounts of a company which invested it with Mr Heald.The dossier also included banking records showing that Mr Heald used the accounts of at least one company with no apparent connection to himself, to process investors money – at a time when he and his company were both banned from trading.The ban was imposed by the financial services watchdog Fimbra, which later struck Mr Heald and Mentor off for handling investors funds directly when not licensed to do so. Attribution: Police Launch Inquiry Sunderland Echo 16 September 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/police-launch-inquiry-1-1089083 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Fraud Experts Give Pledge – 23 September 1999The Serious Fraud Office (SFO)All four officers in the Northumbria Police fraud squad are now working on the case and have been set a deadline of two weeks to interview investors.The names and addresses of the investors were passed to the fraud squad by the Echo after our investigation into one of the North Easts biggest financial scandals.We discovered that financier Anthony Heald fled to southern Ireland claiming to be on the run from contract killers owing investors at least 5million.We identified 35 people who invested the cash into Mr Healds now-defunct Mentor Investment Scheme which he ran from offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland.Former police officers were among the investors and Gordon Spedding, a former Chester-le-Street-based police officer, helped Mr Heald to run the investment scheme.The dossier we handed to police also included banking records which showed that Mr Heald used the accounts of at least one other company with no apparent connection to himself to process investors cash while he was banned from trading.One of the investors was a County Durham-based man who handed 500,000 to Mr Heald on behalf of himself and a business partner.The head of the fraud squad, Detective Inspector Ben Swanson, said in a letter to an investor that the people mentioned in the Echos dossier are now being interviewed.He added: “Should any further evidence be forthcoming the Serious Fruad Office has undertaken to reconsider the entire matter.”Mr Swanson told the Echo he hoped the interviews could be conducted within two weeks. He added: “If any of these investors give clear evidence of criminal offences we will act on it. We have always kept an open mind.” Attribution: Fraud Experts Give Pledge Sunderland Echo 23 September 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/fraud-experts-give-pledge-on-l-1-1079988 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Evidence Goes To Top Fraud Squad – 21 December 1999EVIDENCE on the Wearside “missing millions”It was taken to London personally by the head of Northumbria Police fraud squad, Detective Inspector Ben Swanson, who was also aiming to speak to the Financial Services Authority.The file contains evidence handed to Northumbria Police by the Echo in mid-September, after our own inquiries into the disappearance of several million pounds, invested with financier Anthony Heald, or his Sunderland-based finance company Mentor.Our investigations uncovered:About 35 North East people who between them said they lost about 2.5million, ranging from OAPs investing in pension plans to businessmen hoping to make big profits.Evidence of a further 2.5million missing from investors in the California area of the US, revealed by company liquidators on the Isle Of Man, who said the cash went into the accounts of three separate companies at the request of Mr Heald none of them Mentor;Evidence to show that those companies (in Sunderland, Gateshead and southern Ireland) were being used to shift large sums of money by Mr Heald, including cash paid by investors when he was suspended and under investigation by his professional body.After getting our evidence and coming under pressure from local MPs Chris Mullin and Gerry Steinberg, the Fraud Squad started gathering evidence from investors on our list, most of whom have agreed to testify in court if a criminal case is launched.All the Echo evidence was being handed to the Serious Fraud Office today.In the past, the SFO has said there was insufficient evidence to open a criminal case. The Echo file of evidence contains some information not previously seen by the SFO. Attribution: Evidence Goes To Top Fraud Squad Sunderland Echo 21 December 1999 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/evidence-goes-to-top-fraud-squ-1-1078807 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Misery Mounts As Victims Come Forward – 25 April 2000ONE HUNDRED people are now knownAt least 50 are seeking compensation from the independent Investors Compensation Scheme.They all gave money to businessman Anthony Heald, who fled to southern Ireland fearing for his life.The compensation scheme is “the court of last resort” for investors who have lost cash in a company which has broken the rules set out in the Financial Services Act 1986.The scheme runs under civil law rules an evidential standard a degree lower than the criminal law so if investors can prove their case on the balance of probabilities they can win.But payouts are set at 48,000 per investor, and an Echo investigation has revealed that some investors in Mr Healds now-defunct Mentor Investment Scheme handed over up to 300,000.A spokeswoman for the compensation scheme said: “We are aware of at least 100 potential claims in this one case and, of these, half have made a formal application. These are currently being processed.”There is nothing to stop other investors claiming if they believe they have suffered financial loss as a result of the default of a financial-related business.”The Echo managed to track down 32 investors in Mr Healds scheme, which he ran with the help of former police officer Gordon Spedding. They lost more than 2.3million.But the fact that the Investors Compensation Scheme knows of 100 potential claimants suggests the scandal is far bigger than first thought, with losses amounting to at least 5million.Investors in Mr Healds scheme included criminals reluctant to reveal the source of their income, former police officers out to make a quick profit, and many ordinary people who handed over their life savings.The majority of the investors were from Wearside and Mr Heald promised massive returns on capital returns which other financial experts say were impossible to deliver.Mr Heald, who lived in East Boldon but is originally from Hendon, ran his business, Mentor Financial and Investment Consultants, from offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland.He fled to southern Ireland claiming he was on the run from hired contract killers and “bounty hunters”, among them a team of former SAS soldiers, and gangsters from both London and Germany.The Echo tracked him down to Cork but he refused to answer questions.The names of the 32 investors unearthed during the Echo investigation, and other evidence, has been handed by Northumbria Police Fraud Squad detectives to the Serious Fraud Office. Attribution: The Misery Mounts as Victims Come Forward Sunderland Echo 25 April 2000 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/the-misery-mounts-as-victim-co-1-1094266 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I Was The Perfect, Easy, Target – 27 April 2000A FORMER businessman, who ranDavid Rogers, 58, has lost his three shops, his bar in Puerta de la Cruz, his 120,000 house and was yesterday turned down for a 674 “crisis loan” from the Benefits Agency.Mr Rogers ran the three shops in Holmeside, Sunderland, and in South Shields and Jarrow and also owned a boarding house and a number of flats in South Shields: “I was on my way to my first million,” he said.Today, his few remaining belongings are packed at his home in South Hylton and he is expecting the bailiffs to knock on his door at any time.Mr Rogers served 10 months of a two-year jail sentence after he was convicted of failing to keep proper business records and unrelated charges of perjury and conspiring to pervert the course of justice. He went bankrupt owing creditors 430,000.He said today he accepts he did wrong, and has paid for the crimes he committed, but he claims what played a part in his downfall was investing cash in Anthony Healds Mentor Investment Scheme.He said: “It was the start of all my problems. I dont expect to see my money again and wonder how he seems to have got away with it.”Mr Rogers said he was advised to invest in the scheme, which Mr Heald ran from offices in Norfolk Street, because he was “awash with cash” and there were fears his business was going under.He says he paid the cash to Healds business associates, who called into his Sunderland shop during a four-month period between December, 1994, and March, 1995, and the money was to be invested in offshore accounts.But he says the hard cash he gave Mr Healds associates ended up being paid to other Wearsiders who were pressing Mr Heald for returns on their investments.He said: “One day my nephew was in my office and there was a few thousand pounds on the table, which he started to stamp with our shop stamp. Only hours later those same notes were in the hands of other people who had given cash to Heald.”For Heald and his associates, who would only deal in cash, I was the perfect, easy, target.”Mr Rogers is the latest investor to come forward and outline how he lost his cash. His details are to be passed to the Northumbria Police Fraud Squad as part of an ongoing Echo investigation.Police have handed a dossier of Echo evidence, with details of 32 investors who lost in total more than 2.5million in Mr Healds scheme, to the Serious Fraud Office in London. A decision on a possible prosecution is expected soon. Attribution: I Was The Perfect, Easy, Target Sunderland Echo 27 April 2000 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/i-was-the-perfect-easy-targe-1-1083428 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Fraud Probe is Alive and Kicking – 12 May 2000THE WEARSIDE “missing millionsThe head of the Northumbria Police Fraud Squad, Detective Inspector Ben Swanson, said today: “The evidence provided to us by the Echo has been extremely helpful to this inquiry.”The statements from investors have been very good and we are now in a position to take the inquiry that stage further. With the Echos information the inquiry is very much alive and kicking.”The Echo understands a decision is expected soon on whether a prosecution will be brought against the man at the centre of the scandal, Anthony Heald, from East Boldon.A decision will have to be made on whether an extradition order should be sought by police to bring Mr Heald from his hideaway in Cork, southern Ireland, back to England to face questioning and possible charges.The latest development in the long-running case follows news that a compensation claim for 10,000 made by an investor from County Durham through the Investors Compensation Scheme (ICS) has collapsed.The ICS is considered the “court of last resort” for people who have lost cash investing in schemes which have breached financial regulations, such as the now defunct Mentor Investment Scheme run by Mr Heald from offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland.Mr Heald, originally from Hendon, fled to southern Ireland claiming to be on the run from contract killers and “bounty hunters” following attacks on his home and death threats.An initial police inquiry into his financial activities failed to produce any evidence to put before prosecutors. Following Echo inquiries, however, prosecutors are now in a position to consider launching criminal proceedings against Mr Heald.The Echo was able to track down 32 investors who had given Mr Heald and his associates more than 2.3million. Most of the investors, mainly from Wearside, were later interviewed by Fraud Squad officers. Attribution: Fraud Probe Is Alive And Kicking Sunderland Echo 12 May 2000 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/fraud-probe-is-alive-and-kicki-1-1079992 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Fugitive Faces Crunch – 21 December 2000FUGITIVE financier Anthony HealdA crunch meeting will take place next month between officers from the Northumbria Police fraud squad and officials at the Serious Fraud Office in London.After a review of the evidence, it is expected a decision will be made on whether Mr Heald should be charged.The news today follows meetings between fraud squad officers, Mr Heald and his legal advisers in the North West and in southern Ireland.Mr Heald has been interviewed under caution three times and is now fully co-operating with the inquiry, Detective Inspector Ben Swanson said today.Mr Swanson, head of the Northumbria Police fraud squad, said: “We have met with Mr Heald and his legal advisers three times in the last two or three months.”He has handed over various documents which are currently under examination and inquiries are ongoing.”We have worked extremely hard and discretely to progress this inquiry. We will be meeting officials at the SFO again next month.”Mr Heald, originally from Hendon, Sunderland, was interviewed by police after a long-running Echo investigation into his shady business activities.He fled the country owing people who had put hard cash into his Mentor Investment Scheme at least 2.3million and possibly as much as 30million.Mr Heald, who ran the business from offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland, fled Wearside claiming he was on the run from contract killers and bounty hunters.But we tracked him down to his hideaway in Cork, Ireland, from where he claimed to be doing all he can to return the lost cash.It was a direct result of the Echo investigation during which a dossier of evidence was handed to police that Mr Heald was recently interviewed. Attribution: Fugitive Faces Crunch Sunderland Echo 21 December 2000 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/fugitive-faces-crunch-1-1080081 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On-The-Run Wearside Financier – 2 January 2001A SUNDERLAND-BASED businessmenAnthony Heald was living at an address in one of the most affluent areas of Cork and last year his mother, Ada, from Hendon, also moved to the city.But checks with neighbours at Mr Healds address yesterday revealed he left the house several months ago.Mr Heald is still believed to be living in Cork, where he was recently interviewed by an officer from the Northumbria Police fraud squad.Within the last three months he has also been interviewed under caution by police officers in the north west of England.Neighbours at the address where Mr Heald was living said yesterday he had not been seen at the 120,000 property since about August.There was no one answering the door at the address where his mother, formerly of St Leonard Street, Hendon, is now living.Mr Heald, who ran the Mentor Financial and Investment Scheme from offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland, fled the country owing investors at least 5million and possibly as much as 30million.A decision is expected soon on whether Mr Heald, originally from Hendon, will face fraud charges, after a lengthy Echo investigation Attribution: On-The-Run Wearside Financier Sunderland Echo 2 January 2001 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/on-the-run-wearside-financier-1-1087888 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
New Cash Probe – 3 January 2001A BUSINESSMAN at the centre of a multi-million-pound fraud inquiry on Wearside is also alleged to have fleeced American investors out of at least $15million.Kirk Koskella, of Utah in the United States, was behind two Isle of Man-based companies through which cash was channelled from U.S. investors into a bank account in Sunderland.A police investigation on the Isle of Man resulted in Mr Koskella and his business partner Derek Smith, director of the two Manx firms, facing charges of fraud – but these were later dropped.Now the case has resurfaced in Utah, where Mr Koskella said the authorities are spending $4million pursuing him through the courts – with the Sunderland financier at the centre of the affair, Anthony Heald, as a witness for the prosecution.Mr Koskella, who entered into plea bargaining in the U.S. case, told the Echo: “I have never been indicted on any charges. My pleadings are one count of tax and one count of misrepresenting funds placement.”All this because the (U.S.) government wouldn’t listen to me regarding Anthony Heald … unless I pleaded to something first.”It’s not a few thousand dollars. It’s $15million to $25million which is directly related to Anthony Heald’s schemes in England.”Mr Heald, originally from Hendon, Sunderland, built up his business from humble beginnings to become a major player in international financial deals involving the movement of millions of pounds or U.S. dollars.He persuaded hundreds of people to part with their cash, promising vast returns on their investments, but is believed to have ended up using fresh investment cash to pay off cumulative debts until the deals spiralled out of control.He received millions of pounds from the two Isle of Man companies run by Mr Koskella and Mr Smith.Mr Heald, who ran Mentor Financial and Investment Consultants from offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland, left Wearside owing investors at least 2.3million and possibly as much as 30million. Attribution: New Cash Probe Sunderland Echo 3 January 2001 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/new-cash-probe-1-1086752 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mullin Urges Report Into Police Probe – 3 January 2001SUNDERLAND south MP Chris Mullin has called for a report from a top police officer into the investigation into the Wearside missing millions scandal.A written question on the affair was sent by Mr Mullin to the Home Office, requesting officials contact Northumbria’s Chief Constable Crispian Strachan for the report.But Home Office Minister John Denham replied: “I am informed by the Chief Constable that the investigation into Mentor Financial Consultants is a continuing criminal investigation.”It would not be right to disclose details of the investigation.”Anthony Heald ran the Mentor investment scheme from offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland, with the help of associates, among them Gordon Spedding, a former police officer.Mr Heald, whose last local address was East Boldon, fled to Southern Ireland, claiming he was on the run from contract killers and bounty hunters.He owed investors – mainly Wearsiders – at least 2.3million but possibly as much as 30million.An Echo investigation uncovered other shady financial dealings by Mr Heald that stretched from Wearside to the Isle of Man and Utah in the United States.American businessman Kirk Koskella claimed to have lost 2million to Mr Heald through offshore companies he ran on the Isle of Man.It emerged today that Mr Koskella was linked to an alleged $15million fraud involving a phony offshore trust trading scheme in the U.S. in which 75 investors lost cash.Mr Koskella and a number of accountants and lawyers were indicted by a federal grand jury in Utah on tax fraud charges. He is reported to have entered into plea bargaining.Detective Inspector Ben Swanson, head of Northumbria Police Fraud Squad, said today that a file of evidence was in the hands of the Serious Fraud Office in London to consider charges against Heald and his associates for the Wearside scam.A group of 49 investors recently received compensation from the Investors Compensation Scheme as a result of the Echo investigation into the scandal.It is understood other investors who did not win cash back through the ICS have been offered payouts from a West Indies-based company that has “bought” Mr Heald’s debts. Attribution: Mullin Urges Report Into Police Cash Probe Sunderland Echo 3 January 2001 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/mullin-urges-report-into-police-probe-1-1086358
Investors’ Battle Ends In Massive Pay Out – 3 January 2001
A MASSIVE compensation pay out totalling £860,000 has finally been won by 49 Wearsiders as a result of an Echo investigation into the missing millions scandal.
Details of the massive pay out were revealed by the London-based Investors Compensation Scheme (ICS) today and other cases could soon be finalised.
The ICS is considered the court of last resort for people who have lost cash investing in schemes that have broken financial regulations.
Anthony Heald’s Mentor scheme had broken financial rules and all other legal efforts to recover investors’ cash had failed.
As a result of the Echo investigation, the ICS set up two meetings in Newcastle to meet those who had lost cash and to determine if they were entitled to compensation.
The ICS officials needed documentary evidence, such as receipts, that the money had been paid into the Mentor scheme.
But, as Mr Heald, originally from Hendon, dealt mainly in cash, many of the investors feared they would not receive pay outs.
The announcement of the compensation win today brings to an end a bitter and long-running battle by the 49 investors duped by Mr Heald.
A spokeswoman for the ICS said: “We can confirm that the Mentor scheme was in default and 860,000 has so far been paid out in compensation.
“There are still other cases outstanding which we hope to make decisions on soon.”
A total of 100 people – mainly Wearsiders – had submitted claims for compensation from the ICS.
Mr Heald, whose last local address was Boldon, fled the country owing investors at least 2.3million and possibly as much as 30million.
The Echo tracked him down to Cork, southern Ireland, from where he claimed to be doing all he could to pay back what he owes.
A Northumbria Police fraud squad inquiry into Mr Heald’s business activities, and those of his associates, is ongoing.
Attribution: Investors’ Battle Ends In Massive Pay Outs Sunderland Echo 3 January 2001 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/investors-battle-ends-in-massive-pay-out-1-1083712 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
New Twist In Missing Cash Scam – 16 May 2001
Documents the Echo has obtained reveal Mr Heald, through his former Sunderland-based firm Mentor Financial and Investment Consultants, did business with two Isle of Man companies and another in the United States.
His trail of deceit can now be traced from Utah in America, to the Isle of Man, to his former offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland, and to a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Fawcett Street.
Mr Heald, originally from Hendon, was tracked down by the Echo to Cork in Southern Ireland last year where he claimed to be in hiding and on the run from contract killers after fleeing his home in Boldon.
Echo inquiries discovered he fled the country owing investors – mainly Wearsiders – at least 2.5million and possibly as much as 30million.
Today we can reveal Mr Heald’s business also handled a further 2million invested by U.S. clients which has disappeared, leaving a respectable Manx businessman facing near financial ruin.
Derek Smith, 69, a former bank manager for Lloyds, sold two of his Manx-based companies, Anglo-American Investments Limited and Adrian Finance to American financier Kirk Koskella.
Mr Koskella, who was investigated by the FBI, invested more than 2million in Mr Heald’s shady scheme through the two companies he bought from Mr Smith, but that cash – like that invested by many Wearsiders – has now vanished.
The cash was paid by Mr Koskella into two of Mentor’s accounts at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Fawcett Street. There is no suggestion the bank was aware of the dealings.
Mr Koskella claimed it was his own money, but his former partner Mr Smith – who remained a director of the two companies – believes the cash may have come from Americans attracted by Mr Heald’s promises of huge returns on their investment capital.
Today, Mr Smith was due before a judge in the Courts of Justice on the Isle of Man in a case he is bringing against the Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) – the island’s regulator of financial institutions.
He was hoping a second case he is embroiled in, against the liquidator appointed to oversee the demise of the two companies, would also go ahead today.
In an exclusive interview with the Echo, Mr Smith said: “It is being claimed that I owe creditors who are owed huge sums of money. But I had nothing to do with the handling of the money – that was down to Mr Koskella and Mr Heald.”
Documents the Echo has obtained detail financial dealings between Mr Heald, Mr Koskella, a Tyneside man believed to have acted as a go-between, and banks, involving the movement of money from abroad into Sunderland.
They also reveal links between other Sunderland-based companies and Mr Heald’s Mentor Investment Scheme.
Mr Koskella was arrested and held on the Isle of Man before fraud charges against him were dropped.
Anthony Heald remains in hiding and inquiries by Northumbria Police’s fraud squad into the missing millions affair are continuing after the Echo passed officers a dossier of evidence.Attribution: New twist in missing cash scam Sunderland Echo 16 May 2001 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/new-twist-in-missing-cash-scam-1-1087085 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Fugitive Financier Facing Bankruptcy – 20 July 2004
A FUGITIVE financier who fled the North East owing Wearside investors millions of pounds is facing a bankruptcy hearing.
Anthony Heald, from Hendon, whose last local address was Bridle Path, East Boldon, has been summonsed to appear before the High Court in London on August 3.
The Echo revealed how Heald fleeced hundreds of people out of at least 2.5million and fled to southern Ireland, claiming to be on the run from contract killers and bounty hunters.
An Echo investigation tracked his financial dealings to the Isle of Man and to Utah in the U.S. where others claimed they had been conned into parting with cash.
Mr Heald, 43, was struck off by the financial watchdog authorities when his business, Mentor Financial Services, collapsed in 2000.
At least 50 investors claimed to have lost thousands of pounds after investing in Mr Heald’s Mentor Investment Scheme, which traded from Norfolk Street.
The scheme promised massive returns on capital, which other financial experts said were impossible to deliver.
Investors entrusted their money to his firm for investment in gilts, shares and block share transfers, which promised a return of up to 40 per cent.
After the collapse of the business, the Investors’ Compensation Scheme investigated the claims of those seeking compensation.
The scheme is “the court of last resort” for investors who have lost cash in a company which has broken the rules set out in the Financial Services Act 1986.
It is believed that some of the investors, which included police officers and former criminals as well as ordinary investors, were paid back by Mr Heald in part or in full.
Now one of his former clients, Allan Ranking, chief executive of Ultimate Leisure has petitioned for bankruptcy against Mr Heald.
The hearing is set for Tuesday, August 3, and it is understood if Mr Heald does not attend, the court can make a bankruptcy order in his absence.
Heald was believed to have been living in Cork but sources claim he now has business interests in West Africa.
Attribution: Fugitive Financier facing Bankruptcy Sunderland Echo 20 July 2004 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/fugitive-financier-facing-bankruptcy-1-1116711
Cash Scandal Businessman Tracked Down – 3 November 2008
A BUSINESSMAN at the centre of a scandal involving tens of millions of pounds has been tracked down and questioned by investigators.
Anthony Heald told how he was forced to flee from Sunderland after a hitman was hired to kill him.
Heald told investigators the business he created became a “monster” and he does not know where the “lost” money has gone.
Now living in Ireland, Heald told how gangsters in London put out a contract on his life after they lost money in the scheme.
And a businessman, who also lost his investment, hired a former soldier from the elite Special Boat Service to kidnap Heald and tap his phone calls.
Heald, who lived in East Boldon, South Tyneside, vanished 11 years ago.
It was alleged he owed as much as 30million to a range of investors, including business people, as well as police officers and criminals.
Heald, who ran the Mentor investment scheme from offices in Norfolk Street, Sunderland, was later declared bankrupt.
Northumbria Police were called in to investigate, although Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin accused the force of not pursuing the case with “any great vigour”.
Earlier this year, Northumbria Police said they did not have enough resources to investigate the case.
But now it has been revealed that Heald has been questioned by the Trustee in Bankruptcy, Newcastle-based accountant Bill Paxton and other investigators.
The team travelled to Dublin to question Heald in the summer.
He said the millions of pounds were “lost” when cash was ploughed into an American company, through another company based on the Isle of Man.
Representatives from the U.S. company are now in jail, said Heald.Attribution: Cash Scandal Businessman Tracked Down Sunderland Echo 3 November 2008 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/cash-scandal-businessman-tracked-down-1-1054752
Sunderland Financial Adviser Laundered £9.5million – 6 May 2012
A CROOK who was part of a gang that conspired to launder £9.5million, stolen 11 years ago from a German bank, has been jailed.
Anthony Heald was one of four men who have been put behind bars for the multimillion-pound money laundering plot.
The financial adviser, originally from Hendon, Sunderland, and other gang members believed they could avoid being traced by using a tangled web of financial transactions across the globe.
The organised criminals used offshore companies controlled by trusted associates and offshore banks in jurisdictions, including the Channel Islands and Cyprus to hide their trail. They then transferred the cash to the UK.
But an in-depth financial probe led the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) to Matthew Holmes and Donald Somers, who stole the cash while working for Commerzbank in Germany.
Both men were convicted in Germany six years ago but investigators were unable to trace the cash.
Soca discovered another bank employee, Leigh Greest, had recruited a specialist criminal money-laundering group headed by Herbert Austin to try to hide the money trail.
Austin and co-conspirators Raymond Jewitt and Heald had created an international system to receive and then get rid of the stolen money, which was eventually transferred to accounts of Equity Holdings and Investments Limited and Westfield Corporation Limited, in the UK.
Now Heald, who moved to Boldon before fleeing the country in the 90s, has been jailed for three years.
Austin was also put behind bars for eight years, Greest for two years, and Jewitt for five years.
Soca deputy director Andy Sellers said: “The world of money laundering may seem a bit removed from reality but this group was causing real damage on the ground.
“Without groups like those run by Herbert Austin, the criminals who profit from drugs, weapons and people trafficking can’t stay in business.
“Tangled money trails are no deterrent for Soca’s investigators. They are tenacious and the sentences handed out today reflect their determination to pursue criminal profits right to the end of the line.”
To date, the equivalent of about £2.78million of assets have been frozen in the UK, with more cash being frozen in Spain, Portugal and Australia.
Work to identify further assets held by the group is ongoing.Attribution: Sunderland Financial Adviser Laundered £9.5million Sunderland Echo 6 May 2012 http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/crime/sunderland-financial-adviser-laundered-9-5million-1-4521565
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