Ex-City lawyer handed 15 year jail term for role in £30 million Ponzi scheme

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By Rhys Duncan on


Follows major police investigation

An ex-City solicitor has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a £30 million Ponzi scheme.

Jonathan Denton, formerly of US law firm Locke Lord, was convicted of two frauds alongside more than a dozen other individuals.

The multi-year investigation interviewed witnesses from across the UK, Europe, America and the Far East, and examined bank records linked to dozens of individuals and companies, North Yorkshire Police said.

The investigation, dubbed ‘Operation Circus Two’, began in 2015 when the police became aware that Denton was working with financial advisor Simon Oakley on an investment scheme which was described by officers as “dubious and likely fraudulent.”

“Enquiries identified a number of North Yorkshire-based victims, and uncovered several complex and convoluted ‘Ponzi’ investment schemes,” the police said. “Such schemes, similar to ‘pyramid’ schemes, are elaborate frauds that lure investors with promises of huge returns, paying profits to early investors with funds from more recent investors.”

Investors in the schemes “believed they were dealing with honest, law-abiding, professional people, and investing their money in a safe, virtually risk-free scheme which would net them a large return.” Many victims, however, received nothing at all.

Some of the victims were wealthy investors, but many were individuals investing their pensions and life savings, resulting in the loss of everything they had. The impact on them and their loved ones was devastating, both financially and personally.

Whilst the total value of the scheme is difficult to quantify, it’s estimated that investors collectively lost around £30 million.

The first trial of seven defendants involved in the schemes lasted for 25 weeks, with the verdicts delivered in December 2022.

Denton, now 64, received 15 years’ imprisonment for two frauds totalling £25 million. The other fraudsters received sentences that range from a 16-month suspended sentence to 17 years imprisonment.

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DI Janine Mitchell, head of economic crime at North Yorkshire Police, said: “I’d like to pay tribute to the small team of investigators, who managed a vast and complex investigation with commitment and professionalism. This investigation was a herculean effort and the guilty verdicts and lengthy jail terms given to many of the defendants are a testament to their determination to secure justice.”

“The frauds investigated as part of this operation didn’t just target wealthy investors, she continued. “Some of the victims were elderly and vulnerable, and others were working people like plumbers, carpet fitters, postal employees and even a retired police officer.”

DI Mitchell added: “I hope coverage of this investigation will serve as a reminder to be vigilant against investment fraud: before making significant financial decisions, speak with trusted friends or family members, or seek professional independent advice.”

Denton was stuck off back in 2018 and ordered to pay £70,000 after a tribunal determined his conduct to be “planned and a flagrant breach of the trust placed in him by his clients and investors who relied on his status as a solicitor”. His firm was also ordered fined £500,000 for its role.



Bit harsh striking him off.

Kirkland NQ

He should’ve just got a job at the ‘Land, he would’ve made many multiples of that amount in his first year.


Why do people behave like this.


Ah, but what are NQ’s getting paid at the firm?


Fraudsters need to be punished!! I feel for all those individuals who invested their life savings through hard work over many years into a Ponzi scheme.

These fraudsters no doubt tricked investors who believed they were investing their monies into an investment that delivered a healthy return.

Sadly, I read articles like this all the time!

Hopefully, the more the public are aware of these situations the less likely it will happen again in the future.

All credit to the police for acting on this and finally putting the perpetrators in prison.


Don’t forget POCA


This is pure greed at the expense of others. Anyone promising outlandish returns should raise alarm bells. Criminals also come in suits with briefcases like the lawyer in the article. He’s ruined the lives of others. He’s brought the profession into disrepute and enforces the notion that lawyers are crooks anyway.

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