Serial entrepreneur Elfed Thomas is returning to the UK tech market following a four-year court battle to clear his name. H2O Networks, part of the i3 Group, was subjected to a Madoff-type Ponzi scheme that left its founder and CEO Elfed Thomas unable to trade for the duration of the case, losing his entire personal fortune and plunged into debt.
H2O, a subsidiary of i3 Group, was one of ten companies used by Stephen Dartnell and his co-conspirators to fraudulently obtain over £250m – with H2O being the biggest victim, amounting to over £146m.
Stephen Dartnell and George Alexander had conspired to create, sign and sell falsely inflated or entirely false contracts from the company H2O Networks to business lenders, Barclays Bank and KBC. Simon Mundy was paid more than £900,000 as an ‘inside man’ at the Belgian bank KBC to approve the funding.
Now proven innocent of any wrongdoing following exoneration on the recommendation of the presiding judge, Elfed believes he has ‘unfinished business’ in the UK telecoms market and has set his sights on boosting the UK’s broadband speeds with a new business venture – details of which he intends to announce at the beginning of 2018.
The innovative technology and commercial models introduced by Elfed Thomas during his time at the helm of H2O and the i3 group have since been adopted by companies around the world. The company he was forced to sell for £1 in the midst of the investigation has gone on to generate hundreds of millions.
Elfed Thomas said:
“The UK is currently languishing in 31st place* in the world broadband connectivity tables and 43rd in 4G penetration. The impending exit from Europe, in whatever guise, will require the UK to be in the top ten for broadband capacity. If you look at our target market for trade outside of Europe, 50% of those countries have significantly higher broadband speed and capacity.”
“Currently only 3% of the UK has ‘pure fibre’ – we need a more coherent approach that combines fibre and wireless technology. A starting point would be to ensure that all new builds have pure fibre connectivity providing a bedrock for future generations, and allowing consumers the choice of ‘pure fibre’ providers to their homes.”
Elfed Thomas founded H20 Networks in 2003, the organisation was responsible for delivering the UK’s first and largest fibre to home network in Bournemouth.
He was awarded the prestigious title of EY “Entrepreneur of the Year” for the North and Midlands Region in 2010.
The financing scam that rocked the UK telecoms market saw four men sentenced to a total of 44 years in jail. The investigation began in October 2010 with the subsequent crown court case starting in September 2016 with the final sentencing handed down in February this year.
*Analysis of over 63m broadband speed tests worldwide has revealed that the UK sits in 31st place, with an average speed of 16.51Mbps.
The data was collected across the 12 months up to 10 May this year by M-Lab, a partnership between New America’s Open Technology Institute, Google Open Source Research, Princeton University’s PlanetLab, and other supporting partners, and compiled by Cable.co.uk