According to the Financial Times, two former bankers have been sentenced to 11 years in prison for their roles in a multimillion-pound fraud in which a Libyan sovereign wealth fund was duped after hidden fees were paid to offshore companies.
Frederic Marino, 56, a fund manager and former JPMorgan star trader, was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison on Monday after a jury at Southwark Crown Court found him guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position last December.
Yoshika Ohmura, 47, a former Julius Baer banker found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position of trust at the same trial, was sentenced to prison for three years and six months.
Judge Tony Baumgartner sentenced the two men in their absence and issued arrest warrants after learning that both had fled the UK. Aurelien Bessot, 47, a former Rabobank financier who appeared in court on Monday, pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position of trust in 2020. He received a sentence of 15 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Marino, who did not attend last year’s trial and is now residing in Paris, and Bessot were co-directors of a company called FM Capital Partners, which was founded in 2009. This was in charge of investing £822 million in funds from the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio, a sovereign wealth fund established shortly before the Arab Spring and the fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Instead of optimising the investments, Marino and Bessot, with the assistance of Swiss banker Ohmura, placed investments to maximise their own profits. Between 2009 and 2014, they collected undeclared fees for investments made on behalf of the Libyan wealth fund, to the fund’s detriment. The proceeds from these illegal activities were then laundered through a network of offshore shell companies.
Marino, according to Judge Baumgartner, played a “leading role” in the fraud and was a “greedy, corrupt, and manipulative man” who would have “continued offending” if he hadn’t been caught.
Marino devised a scheme to illegally line his own pockets, believing he could get away with it, and his actions had deprived the Libyan people, according to the judge.
Bessot was sentenced to probation after the court heard that he had assisted prosecutors, was “deeply remorseful,” and had paid back $2.8 million — more than the amount he owed.
Judge Baumgartner said that London remained a leading financial centre and such offending brought its reputation “into disrepute”. He also criticised the use of offshore vehicles in the fraud, which he said were “an impenetrable cloak to obtain illegitimate advantage” and added that “use of these has to stop”.
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