A MERSEYSIDE businessman appeared in court charged with a £5m con which allegedly saw dozens of pensioners defrauded.
Wirral man Malcolm Barber, 69, is one of two defendants charged with fleecing 127 investors through a business called Gentry Investment Trust.
It is alleged those who put money into the investment vehicle were predominately elderly with investments often made from life savings and retirement funds.
Barber is honorary treasurer of the Liverpool and District Cricket Competition and was made vice-president of the Lancashire Cricket Board earlier this year. He is a well-respected umpire and also serves as disciplinary secretary for Merseyside Cricket Umpires Association.
The allegations do not relate to his cricketing roles.
Barber’s co-accused is Morecambe businessman Terry Warrington who it is understood set up Gentry in 1986.
A Lancashire Police investigation has probed the pair’s business dealings since 1999 and will claim a complex, long-running fraud amounting to just under £5m.
It is alleged the men committed money laundering between March 2002 and August 2010.
They also stand accused of conspiracy to defraud between December 1999 and August 2010 and failing to register with the Financial Services Authority between November 2001 and August 2010.
Warrington is also accused of a £329,853 theft linked to investors in a bonds company.
Barber, of Links View, Wallasey, appeared at Preston Crown Court yesterday with Warrington, 65, for a preliminary hearing. Pleas will not be entered until a case management hearing in May.
A six-week trial was pencilled in for September next year.
Both men were given on unconditional bail.
Warrington, of Michaelson Avenue, appeared without a lawyer after claiming he could not afford to pay for legal representation.