UK: ‘Utterly dishonest’ Axiom fund solicitor jailed for fraud

The Uk Law Gazette

struck-off solicitor who dishonestly funnelled nearly £20m of investors’ money from a legal financing fund into his own pocket to fund a luxury lifestyle has been jailed for 14 years.

Timothy Schools, 61, was found guilty on Tuesday of three counts of fraudulent trading, one count of fraud and one count of transferring criminal property in relation to the Cayman Islands-registered Axiom Legal Financing Fund.

The Axiom fund was purportedly set up to lend money to firms pursuing no-win no-fee claims but collapsed in October 2012, jurors were told, meaning investors ‘lost everything’ while Schools was ‘making money hand over fist’.

Prosecutor Paul Raudnitz QC, for the Serious Fraud Office, said today that the Axiom fund lost more than £100m and that ‘the number of clients whose cases were affected was in the range of 35,000’.

Schools’ barrister George Carter-Stephenson QC argued that ‘at the outset this was not a dishonest scheme’, adding that those who put money into the fund were ‘sophisticated investors’.

But Judge Martin Beddoe said that the Axiom scheme was fraudulent ‘more or less from the start’, telling Schools that he is an ‘utterly dishonest man and that characteristic … has regrettably run through you for a very long time’.