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Vince Cable and victims of fraudster eyeing his luxury £700,000 home
A FRAUDSTER jailed for bogus environmental investment schemes could now lose his £700,000 Thundersley home.
Matthew Ames faces a proceeds of crime hearing later this year to determine if he has any assets to repay any of the £1.6million he swindled from investors.
Ames, 38, ran two companies from a converted farm barn in Dunton Road, Laindon.
Business Secretary Vince Cable is also trying to recoup money spent by his department investigating the conman.
Ames, of Goldfinch Lane, Thundersley, was jailed at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday after being found guilty of two counts of fraudulent trading relating to the Investor Club and Forestry for Life.
During the hearing, it emerged Ames had been offered a £10,000-a-month job managing his father David Ames’s five-star Buccament Bay resort in the Caribbean island of St Vincent if he avoided jail.
Defence lawyer Adam Budworth argued Ames had not set out to defraud, but got out of his depth, so he should be given a suspended sentence.
He said: “This was not a boiler room scam with highpressure salesmen in vulnerable people’s homes.
“He has the opportunity to earn £10,000 a month in the management team of Buccament Bay.
“He made a pledge to repay every investor and this would allow the start of that process.
“You could say in this case prison would be the soft option and not help any of the investors.”
The bid was rejected by Judge Paul Dugdale who gave him 40 months in prison.
The case will resume in October when the prosecution will seek to seize any property or cash owned by Ames to compensate clients who ploughed life savings, insurance payouts and pensions into the schemes which falsely claimed it would be used to buy teak trees in Sri Lanka or rainforest land.
However, the Echo can reveal several individuals, businesses and authorities have laid claim to a stake in Ames’s gated four-bedroom detached home, called Marimba, in leafy Goldfinch Lane, which he bought for £700,000 in April 2007.
Land Registry records show the property has several legal restrictions in the name of various parties, which means it could not be sold without them being informed.
These include two in the name of Begbies Traynor, the liquidator of both firms, and two in the name of Business Secretary Vince Cable, which are understood to be in connection with costs for a separate investigation into Ames’s conduct which led him to be banned from being a company director for 13 years last August.
As co-owner, his wife Amanda Ames, who the court heard is divorcing him, would also have a stake on her share.
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