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Lawyer to the stars jailed after £2.8m fraud
9:00am Saturday 9th February 2013 in News
LAWYER to the stars duped Chris Tarrant and jockey Richard Dunwoody into supporting his application for an OBE as he carried out a £2.8m fraud.
Nathan Iyer, 47, pretended he had raised a fortune for Cancer Research UK and persuaded the TV presenter and former jockey to sign a letter he had written about his suitability for the award.
At the same time Iyer was enjoying a life of luxury from the proceeds of his fraud, driving sports cars, racing a yacht and living in beautiful homes in Hampshire and London.
He owned a top of the range Porsche and his boat, Portia, which he kept moored for racing on the Solent, was worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Iyer spent over £600,000 just landscaping and installing a swimming pool at his home in Bursledon, the Old Bailey heard.
He would slip in extra items in client’s bills from three bogus companies he created and then funnel the money into his own accounts.
The lawyer admitted his crimes were “purely down to his own greed”.
Iyer joined international firm Ince & Co in 1992 as an assistant solicitor and became a partner in 1998.
Despite being paid £568,000 a year, he began the 12-year fraud when he was entertaining wealthy clients and could not afford to match their fabulous lifestyles.
An internal investigation launched after one of the hundreds of invoices processed by Iyer was found to be suspect revealed he had taken more than £2m.
Iyer later told police: “I just helped myself. The option was there and so I just took it.
“Greed, familiarity, and the ease with which it could be done just took over.”
Detectives then found Iyer had twice plotted to win himself an OBE, in 2004 and 2008, by claiming he was one the country’s biggest supporters of the cancer charity.
He claimed to have donated over £1m to the charity, and to have organised yachting activities for sufferers.
Iyer, now of Acton Trussell, Staffordshire, admitted one charge of false accounting and two of making use of a false instrument.
His barrister Jim Sturman QC said: “This case is a tawdry waste of his talent.
It has been recognised by him to be down to purely his own greed.”
Iyer has sold everything he owns and has managed to pay back £2.1m.
He married fellow lawyer Milena Augusta Zoccarato, and the couple have a three year-old son but his wife has now divorced him and Iyer has been made bankrupt. He has been reduced to working as a labourer in Lymington boat yards for £250 per week – half of what he used to make per hour.
He was stuck off last year for what was described as one of the worst cases of fraud ever to come before the solicitors’ disciplinary tribunal.
Jailing him for four years and eight months, the judge, Mr Recorder Christopher Wilson, said: “Any sentence must reflect not only a proper punishment to you, but a deterrent to others not to follow in your footsteps. It is a dismal end to a fine career.”