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Former Premier League player branded fraudster over Ponzi like scheme

Richard Rufus back in 1998 when he was a regular for Charlton
Richard Rufus back in 1998 when he was a regular for Charlton

A former footballer who acted as an unregulated financial consultant has been branded a fraudster by a specialist civil court judge.

Ex-Charlton defender Richard Rufus misused and lost millions of pounds of other people's money when operating a Ponzi-like scheme, bankruptcy registrar Clive Jones said today.

The registrar today imposed restrictions limiting Mr Rufus's ability to borrow money and work in business which will last for 15 years after analysing the case at the High Court in London.

Mr Jones said Mr Rufus accepted more than £16 million from investors between 2007 and 2011 - without authorisation and in breach of financial regulations.

He lost more than £5 million through currency exchange trading and used more than £3 million for his "own purposes".

He gave more than £7 million back to investors, but that was money from other investors passed off as profit.

Mr Jones said the scheme run by Mr Rufus had been "disastrous".

He said it would be a matter for financial regulation officials to decide whether Mr Rufus should be prosecuted.

Mr Rufus, 40, was not in court to hear the judge outline his conclusions.

He spent a decade at Charlton - making more than 300 appearances between 1994 and 2004 - and in 2005 fans voted him the club's greatest defender.

Mr Jones said Mr Rufus was made bankrupt in 2013 - in the wake of investigations by financial authorities - and discharged from bankruptcy a year later.

Experts from the Government's Insolvency Service investigated and argued that further restrictions should be placed on Mr Rufus to protect potential investors.

Deputy official receiver Paul Warner today asked the judge to make Mr Rufus the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order.

He said it would hamper Mr Rufus's ability to deal with money and would bar him from being a company director and prevent him getting credit of more than £500.

Mr Jones made the order and said it would last for 15 years.

The judge, who reached conclusions on a balance of probability basis, said the case was "particularly serious".

Mr Warner said after the ruling that decisions on prosecution would be for the Financial Conduct Authority.

Mr Rufus attended a court hearing in May - and indicated that he had evidence in his defence.