A COMPANY director accused of duping a host of investors out of a total of £386,000 told them they would receive a 300 per cent return on their £15,000 stake, a court has heard.

Stewart Kennedy, of Quarrier’s Village, Bridge of Weir, is said to have told his investors they would get their money back within 100 days – and scoop £45,000 within a year.

He is on trial at Paisley Sheriff Court, accused of obtaining £386,000 by fraud and stealing a further £5,000 between April 2010 and February 2012.

Kennedy, 52, is said to have obtained money by fraud by encouraging investors to buy franchises in his business, which would see them earn £4,600-per-month in return.

But he claims he only guaranteed he would pay them £575 for every successful transaction within the postcode area their franchise covered.

Kennedy ran Cost Reduction Services, which saw clients pay a fee for him to consolidate their debts.

He then sold franchises through a firm called Easyearn.

An advert on a website put together by Graham Scott, who sold franchises on Kennedy’s behalf, claimed that investors were guaranteed their full £15,000 investment by 5pm on the 100th day of their franchise.

Giving evidence, Mr Scott, 62, said he saw a pile of “completed” transactions on Kennedy’s desk and was shown corresponding cheques showing payments made to franchisees.

He added: “The cheques showed the business was working. It was showing you could make the £4,600-per-month.

“Mr Kennedy told me the franchisees would get their money back within 50 to 60 days. The cheques is proof of that.”

A businessman who is said to have been duped out of £15,000 by Kennedy also gave evidence in the trial.

Osamah Shaheen said he tried to have Kennedy banned from the United States after he invested money in franchises and never received a single penny in returns.

Defence solicitor Gordon Ritchie asked Mr Shaheen if his memory of his dealings with Kennedy, which happened nearly seven years ago, were clouded by the fact his investment had failed.

The 58-year-old witness replied: “I had enough bad memories. I didn’t expect this day to come to pass.

“He’s a public nuisance.

“I don’t hold grudges, that’s why I came in here nicely. If I hadn’t, I would’ve probably gone for him. I’ve had enough of it.

“Did he take my money? Yes. Was I stupid? Yes. Would I do it again? No. Am I prejudiced against Stewart Kennedy? Yes.

“I even tried to get him barred from the US but you’d need to check with them when I did that.”

Mr Shaheen’s brother, Yassir Mohammed Shaheen, also gave evidence. The 56-year-old pharmacist said he bought a £15,000 franchise which failed.

Kennedy maintains his innocence and the trial, before Sheriff Seith Ireland, continues.