A JURY was yesterday asked to consider whether a man believed he was promoting an illegal get-rich-quick scheme in Newport.

Pyramid schemes, relying on members recruiting other members for a return on their investment, are illegal as they inevitably collapse at some stage, leaving members who joined late out of pocket.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that Gerwyn Duggan, 48, of Amelia Way, Newport, gave presentations at the Hilton in Langstone and other placesand The Park Inn, Heathrow, as well as in Ireland to recruit people to the Synkronice scheme and a related social media website Spinglo. Members bought “packages” which contained a self-help programme and cost between £199 and £1,500.

The jury was asked to consider whether the self-help DVD and other items described by the prosecution as of “nominal” value such as acai berry juice and coffee could justify this price tag or whether the inclusion of such items was a fig leaf to legitimise the scheme, which earned Duggan £74,000 and which has since collapsed. Up to 10,000 people joined the Spinglo website in Newport alone.

Alexander Greenwood, prosecuting, said the chance to make money was by selling the “packages” on to others who in turn became sellers themselves. Duggan said he was assured by CEO David Bosley that the scheme was legal.

Mr Greenwood said: “Was it in fact choosing to turn a blind eye to the truth, paying lip service to the law? Far more could and should have been done and the prosecution I wouldinvite you to convict Mr Duggan of all the charges that he faces in relation to this matter.”

Matthew Roberts, defending, said in his closing speech Duggan was a “small fish” in the scheme and had taken steps to assure himself it was legal: “He’a not the director, he’s nothing to do with the management structure. The materials are not designed by him, not crafted by him. He’s given them. He’s a tool for the selling process, for somebody else. He’s a small fish which prosecutors have elected to put in the dock alone.”

Mr Roberts said Duggan exercised due diligence in trying to ensure the scheme was within the law by taking legal advice.

Duggan is charged with engaging in unfair commercial practice, two counts of acquiring criminal property and one of transferring criminal property.