Former Jongleurs boss Marios Lourides jailed for 10 years | Crooked accountant found guilty of £10m fraud on retrial

Former Jongleurs boss Marios Lourides jailed for 10 years

Crooked accountant found guilty of £10m fraud on retrial

Former Jongleurs boss Marios Lourides has been jailed for  ten years, after a retrial found him guilty of multi-million pound fraud.

The accountant, 59, had used the comedy club chain to help launder the money from the dubious scheme, which could have conned investors out of up to £30million.

He and co-defendant Mark Ablitt had originally been found guilty of the same offence in 2018, when he was also sentenced ten years. However, the conviction was later quashed by the Court of Appeal due to a mistake made by the original trial judge.

A retrial was ordered. Ablitt pleaded guilty but Lourdes maintained his innocence, resulting in a 13-week hearing at Kingston Crown Court which ended this month with the same sentence, Chortle can reveal.

Clients were told their money would be invested in a Singaporean bank with a high interest rate, but zero risk to the investors. Lourides promoting the scheme in the UK and Ablitt dealing with the Far East side.

In fact, the money went on wages, business costs and int Lourides’ own pocket.

A Met police investigation identified 18 victims who between them invested around £10million – but officers suspect that the total money lost will be closer to £30million. 

The team based at Lewisham police station in South London are now   looking to recover as much money for victims as they can.  

Lourides has been the director of 43 companies over the years, and became finance director of Jongleurs after its ownership changed in 2009.

The comedy club chain was founded by Maria Kempinska in 1983, from a venue in Battersea, South London. By 2000 it had expanded to a nationwide empire that she and business partner John Davy sold to pubs operator Regent Inns in a multi-million pound deal.

They regained control of the brand in 2009, after the collapse of Regent, with them each owning a third of the new company, alongside Lourides.

He resigned from a suite of companies connected with Jongleurs in December 2014, the month after his financial firm Sears Morgan went into administration. Within a year Jongleurs had called in the administrators too, with a list of creditors – including many comedians and their agents – running to nine pages. 

Several attempts to revive the brand in conjunction with various nightclub operators all floundered and the Jongleurs companies were formally dissolved in December 2017.

However the brand name was revived in 2020 by Kev Orkian, a comedian who once appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. Under this new management, Jongleurs now runs gigs in a number of venues, mainly in the South East of England.

In 2016 the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants suspended Lourides’ certificate to practise ‘to protect the public’.

In a damning ruling, the body branded him ‘deplorable’, ruling it would pose a ‘continuing risk to the public’ if he remained a member, finding him guilty of misconduct that ‘brought discredit upon the accountancy profession as a whole’.

Ruling that he failed to maintain proper accounts for money entrusted to him by clients, a disciplinary hearing concluded: ’Given the entire scheme was a fraud, it is unsurprising that Mr Lourides had not accounted for the monies received or maintained accurate records.’

Ablitt was also sentenced to ten years, but received a discount for his early plea and the fact he was in prison during Covid, reducing this to six years and nine months. With the time he had already served taken in to account he has now been released.

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Published: 11 Dec 2023

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