A case brought by the Serious Fraud Office against supercar dealer Tom Hartley was today discontinued at Westminster Magistrates’ Court – with Hartley cleared of any wrongdoing.
Car Dealer was at court in London today for the hearing after he was charged with withholding information from a fraud investigation into car leasing company Raedex Consortium, a firm that attracted thousands of investors in a car lease scheme over a nine-year period before it collapsed in 2021 with debts of £28m.
The 62-year-old businessman and owner of Tom Hartley Cars – who is pictured above leaving the court building today with wife Priscilla and flanked by his solicitor Antonita Arikaran and son Carl – initially appeared before Westminster magistrates in May.
Back then, he pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to comply with a Section 2 requirement from the director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), and no evidence was presented to the court by SFO representative Alex du Sautoy today.
Raedex Consortium owned companies Buy2Let, PayGo Cars, Wheels4Sure and Rent2Own Cars and had been under investigation since 2021 when it went into administration.
The SFO said Hartley was believed to have information about a suspect in the case and was asked by investigators four times to provide it.
But confirming the acquittal, Deputy District Judge Colin Witcher told Hartley today: ‘That concludes this case. You’ll hear no more about it ever again.’
Speaking outside the court after this morning’s hearing, Hartley said: ‘To say that I am relieved to be exonerated today is an understatement.
‘I am extremely pleased that the SFO has taken the reasoned and considered decision to offer no evidence against me.
‘The last six months have been very difficult and today’s outcome goes some way to putting things right.
‘Trustworthiness is the most important element in the business I am in.
‘To be prosecuted by the SFO was both shocking and extremely difficult to rationalise. It threatened my reputation.
‘I was overwhelmed with a deep sense of shame when I learnt the news and that is why I am thankful that things are now at an end.
‘I have emerged from this terrible ordeal without blemish and with my reputation intact.
‘These proceedings have made the last six months of my life very stressful.
‘It has been a challenging time and I am not sure where I would be but for the help and support of my family – my wife Priscilla and my children – and my legal team.
‘I now need the time and space to reflect on matters before deciding which direction I wish to take in seeking justice for the suffering heaped on me.’
A spokeswoman for the SFO told Car Dealer today: ‘On November 9, 2023, the SFO confirmed it would no longer be proceeding with its prosecution of Mr Hartley for failure to comply with an SFO investigation.
‘As a responsible prosecutor, we must ensure all our cases meet the evidential and public interest tests set by the Code for Crown Prosecutors, and information submitted by Mr Hartley on September 25, 2023 means that the evidential test is no longer satisfied.’
Hartley has been in the motor trade for 50 years and now runs his supercar dealership alongside Carl.
He operates from a dealership built within the Hartley Estate in Derbyshire, where many millions of pounds worth of supercars can be found on any day and the rich and famous are flown in to shop for their next luxury vehicle.
In 2021, Hartley won the Lifetime Achievement Award at our Used Car Awards for his 50 years in business.
He featured in the second instalment of our Selling Supercars video series earlier this year. You can watch it below:
Pictures by Jon Reay and copyright © Blackball Media 2023