Financier accused of forging clients’ signatures claims he had consent to transfer funds

Pictured is former financial adviser Martin Rigney, 68, of King Edwards, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, who stands accused accused of forging investors' signatures.
Pictured is former financial adviser Martin Rigney, 68, of King Edwards, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, who stands accused accused of forging investors' signatures.

A former financial adviser accused of forging clients’ signatures and investing their money into a fund which collapsed claimed to police he had invested the cash with clients’ consent.

Martin Rigney, 68, formerly of Great Hucklow, near Buxton, denies 22 counts of forgery involving tens of thousands of pounds of clients’ cash which was lost after it was invested into a fund which was suspended.

An on-going Derby Crown Court trial heard on Friday, June 16, how Mr Rigney informed Detective Constable Julie Wheeldon during a police interview that he had invested money with his clients’ consent but there are clients who will disagree.

He told police: “They will also try to get their money back because greed drives every client.”

Mr Rigney used to trade under Topps Rogers Financial Management and his clients were generally retired, elderly and some have since died and their funds were invested in the Poland Geared Growth Property Fund - known as the Polish Fund.

Clients were originally advised to invest via Royal Skandia bonds with a safe spread of investments in various funds before Mr Rigney allegedly forged signatures and switched investments to the Polish Fund.

Prosecuting barrister Martin Hurst stated this was an investment in the Polish property market but stressed it was an Unregulated Collected Investment Scheme and unsuitable for the majority of Mr Rigney’s clients who required safe, non-risk investments to pay school and nursing fees, or just wanted money to live on.

Mr Hurst claimed money originally placed into a Royal Skandia bond and then into the Curzon Capital Investment Poland Geared Growth Fund yielded £371,149 as Mr Rigney’s commission income for advising people to go into the Polish Fund.

He argued Mr Rigney allegedly signed documents on the clients’ behalf, allegedly forging their signatures on letters telling him what to do or on documents so he could allegedly hide what he was doing.

But Mr Rigney told police that due to the unstable nature of the stock market he was asked to move money and put it into bricks and mortar and that was why he invested clients’ money into Curzon Capital and the Polish Fund.

However, that fund was suspended in 2008.

He told police: “Clients are lazy in most cases and they want someone to show them what to do.”

Mr Rigney argued this had looked like the best fund for his clients and the Polish Fund would have been of a low risk investment.

He told police one couple, William and Nora Parkinson, had agreed to put money into the Polish Fund but Mrs Parkinson said neither her or her late husband had signed anything authorising the transfer of their money into the fund.

The court heard how Mrs Parkinson had £58,000 in the fund when it was suspended and she has been unable to retrieve that money.

Mr Rigney told police: “I was safeguarding Mr and Mrs Parkinson’s financial interests.

“I moved them out of volatile funds into what I thought was a safe, secure investment.”

He also told police that investors Frederick and Joan Davy had liked the Polish Fund.

However, police suggested this couple’s signatures had been photocopied onto blank forms but Mr Rigney denied having done this.

The trial, which is due to last six weeks, continues.

The court heard how the 22 charges of forgery related to individuals or couples from Derbyshire, north Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. Mr Rigney, of King Edwards, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, has denied 22 counts of forgery from between 2006 and 2008.