A former Premier League footballer and church trustee who was accused of causing a London church to lose millions of pounds after offering to personally guarantee an investment, has been found guilty of an £8m trading scam.
Southwark Crown Court heard that 47-year-old Richard Rufus, an ex-Charlton Athletic player, said he would guarantee a £5m investment by the Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) where he was a trustee, as a “blessing”. He promised the church returns of up to 72 per cent a year. But the church eventually got back only £1,436,720 of its investment.
Rufus was forced to retire in 2004 with an injury, but is reported to have kept up a lavish lifestyle while claiming to be a successful foreign exchange trader. The court heard that he told investors that high profile footballers such as Rio Ferdinand were already on board with his schemes. Family and friends said they handed over money after promises of huge returns, but prosecutors say Rufus lost money “hand over fist”.
Rufus, from Crystal Palace, south-east London, denied claiming the investment was low risk or that he used any of the money taken for personal gain.
He was found guilty of three counts of fraud totalling just under £8m, using around £2m in criminal property and carrying out a regulated activity without authorisation.
Judge Dafna Spiro released Rufus on bail ahead of his sentencing hearing on 12th January but told him: "The inevitable sentence is going to be one of custody."