By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Rogue investment broker Tony Taylor, who was arrested in the British seaside resort of Eastbourne in 1999, has been jailed for five years after pleading guilty to charges of defrauding four clients out of a total investment of just over _382,000.
The jailing of Taylor, who is 53, once a pillar of the Irish financial establishment and adviser to the government on legislation to police the investment advice sector, follows the biggest fraud investigation in the history of the state.
Ironically, he has become the first person to be jailed for destroying documents — a charge leveled under the Investment Intermediaries Act 1995, which he had advised the Government on.
Taylor fled the country in 1966 as his brokerage business was collapsing. It was later found about _1.7 million in clients’ funds were unaccounted for.
His lawyer told the Circuit Criminal Court that he suffered from a “blindness to reality” when he found his business was in difficulty. He began to use clients’ money to bail out his companies and keep them afloat.
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Before he and his wife, Shirley, absconded, abandoning their house and pet dog Harvey, he ordered the shredding of bin sacks of records dating back to 1989.
His Ballsbridge-based Taylor Asset Management company had been one of the country’s largest individual investment brokers with 1,200 clients and about _30 million invested.
One of Taylor’s victims was the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which lost _185,000 it had earmarked for a holiday center for underprivileged children.
As part of the deal for a guilty plea to avoid a trial that could have lasted 10 weeks and involved 60 witnesses, the charge relating to the charity’s money was dropped.
After his disappearance, it was discovered that he kept a separate set of books for special customers at home.
It is believed a number of his clients may not have made a complaint because they had entrusted him with “hot” money or untaxed earnings.
When Taylor was tracked down to Eastbourne living under the name Andrew Taylor, British police began surveillance and found a private investigation agency was also keeping him under observation.
Taylor was served with 15 extradition warrants involving _620,000 and was returned to Ireland in January 20000.