An unemployed conman who carried out an "elaborate and outrageous scam" to sell London's Ritz hotel (left) for £250m has been jailed for five years.
Anthony Lee, a jobless lorry driver from Yorkshire, found victims interested in the iconic hotel in Piccadilly and duped them into handing over £1m, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.
Lee, who was convicted earlier this month of obtaining £1m payment by deception, pretended to be a close friend of the Ritz's reclusive owners, the Barclay brothers. He offered Terry Collins, co-founder of a large property company, the chance to "buy" the hotel for the discounted amount of £250m - well below its estimated value of around £600m.
However, Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay were completely unaware Lee was claiming to be able to sell the landmark building.
Collins, of London Allied Holdings, borrowed £1m from Dutch businessman and financier Marcel Boekhoorn to pay Lee the deposit in December 2006. But the sale never went through and the money was never returned, the jury heard.
Judge Stephen Robbins described the offence as an "elaborate and outrageous scam", sentencing Lee to five years, less the 25 days he has already served in custody.
By Kerstin Kuhn
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