Former ABTA legal chief Riccardo Nardi was jailed for
four-and-a-half years at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court on

As he passed sentence, Judge Duncan Matheson told Nardi he would
suffer the consequences of his actions for the rest of his

Judge Matheson said it was the lowest sentence he could impose
for a crime involving “enormous amounts of money” and a “breach of

“You have destroyed your reputation,” he told Nardi. “Never will
you be trusted in a position of responsibility or seniority. You
will have to live with this for the rest of your life.”

Earlier, the court heard Nardi began his crimewave to provide
financial security for his family. But Judge Matheson told him far
from helping them, “your family will be destitute and you will be
in prison”.

Giving credit for his guilty plea and for the partial recovery
of the missing million, the judge said he could go no lower than
four-and-a-half years.

The court heard Nardi began swindling ABTA shortly after the
birth of his first child in 1994.

Charles Ward-Jackson, defending, said the family struggled
financially as wife Samantha had given up work and they were
burdened with high mortage repayments.

“The temptation to commit fraud started on a low level and, it
appeared to become a habit, a habit exacerbated by his family

Nardi’s financial woes deepened when his second child was
born in 1996. While they lived in a “comfortable home”,
Ward-Jackson said: “We are not talking about the pages of Hello.
Even in such circumstances, life can be a struggle.”

Nardi’s £70,000 wage was “not commensurate with his
responsibilities”, Ward-Jackson said.

“There were people he was coming into contact with, people in
the same organisation, who led a more lavish lifestyle. There may
have been elements of keeping up with the Joneses.”

The court heard the only luxury items Nardi bought were a
Porsche and expensive watches. “Most of the money went on home
improvements and shares to safeguard the family’s future,”
Ward-Jackson said.

In a letter issued by Nardi, the former ABTA legal chief
apologised to the trade for his action. “The real Riccardo Nardi is
exactly the person you all saw flying the flag for ABTA,” he

Earlier, Nardi wiped away tears as life-long friend Howard
Barker said he couldn’t have wished for a better friend.
ABTA’s Mike Monk and Keith Richards were in court to hear the

ABTA welcomed the sentence. Chief executive Ian Reynolds said:
“This was a serious crime and it is right that he should serve a
prison term.”