The former boss of a designer shoe brand worn by the Duchess of Sussex has been jailed for more than four years after falsely claiming £500,000 in expenses.
Roy Luwolt, 38, earned £150,000 a year as the self-styled co-founder and managing director of Malone Souliers, whose luxury footwear has been sported by celebrities including Meghan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyonce.
He claimed expenses for trips to Paris, Milan, Tuscany, New York, Tokyo and the Middle East, where he stayed in luxury hotels, including Raffles in Dubai and the Four Seasons in Doha.
Luwolt was chauffeur-driven around the cities, spending thousands of pounds on nightlife and shopping at high-end stores such as Barneys New York, Antonioli in Milan and United Arrows, Tokyo.
At home in London, he shopped at Harrods and Selfridges and blew more than £9,000 at the Cirque Le Soir club and nearly £35,000 at Annabel’s in Berkeley Square.
He also charged the company for at least five holidays between 2016 and 2018, including a nine-night trip to Tokyo with a woman and his daughter costing almost £50,000.
A Zanzibar vacation with a female friend in 2017 cost the company £25,000, including a four-day stay and balloon ride at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
A US road trip with two friends and his daughter between December 2017 and January 2018 cost the firm £55,000.
Father-of-two Luwolt, from Marylebone in central London, was sacked in November 2018 after the scam was discovered.
He was jailed for four years and three months at Southwark Crown Court today after previously pleading guilty to fraud between March 24 2015 and November 15 2018.
Judge Philip Bartle QC said: “Mr Luwolt fraudulently obtained not less than £500,000 in expenses over nearly three years.
“He caused the company to incur huge expenses for himself and others for at least five holidays between December 2016 and April 2018, with the bills paid by the company credit card of Mr Luwolt, who paid himself expenses.”
The court heard Luwolt was hired by the company’s founder Mary Alice Malone in 2013 after meeting her at a dinner party, where he boasted of his success as a venture capitalist.
Luwolt falsely claimed he had made his first million at university, built the Lipsy London clothing brand and worked for the Burberry fashion house.
He was paid nearly £300,000 in 2017, more than £470,000 in 2018, and spent £664,000 on the company credit card between January 2017 and April 2018, said prosecutor Adam Davis QC.
After taking out a Harrods American Express Card, he blew £391,000 between February and November 2018.
But the judge said: “Mr Luwolt’s lavish spending on himself and his friends contrasts with his attitude to an assistant who was asked to flat-sit for him.”
The court heard she was berated by Luwolt in an email after making a claim of just £7.82 for a taxi home.
Malone Souliers said in a statement: “The defendant was removed from the company three years ago.
“Since then, we have continued to create beautiful shoes for women and men and to grow globally as a brand.”