A Maltese conman who posed as a multi-millionaire with links to the Vatican to defraud €100 million from an international shipping company has been jailed for eight years.

Paul Sultana, 51, claimed his uncle was the Pope’s secretary and promised annual returns of 1,200 per cent by using the pontiff’s secret trading platform.

Southwark Crown Court in London was told that Sultana was a ‘very good confidence trickster’.

The former car dealer and a gang of fraudsters posed as financiers to trick Allseas, a Dutch shipping company, in 2011.

They also made wild claims about their influence with the Spanish royal family and the US Federal Reserve.

Sultana boasted of his expertise in the financial markets in Malta, claiming that Allseas would get significant returns.

He was convicted after the company he had defrauded brought a private prosecution – criminal proceedings which are not initiated by the state.

It’s thought to be the largest fraud in Britain to be successfully prosecuted privately.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it would seek to ‘learn lessons’ from the case.