Three fund managers have been convicted of a large-scale fraud which resulted in losses of $8.45 million to the Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund.
Frederic Marino and Yoshika Ohmura were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position. Aurelien Bessot pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position of trust prior to the start of the trial.
The NCA’s seven year investigation, conducted with close cooperation from the Crown Prosecution Service, demonstrated how the defendants had abused their position through fraudulent trading whilst managing the fund worth around 822m.
In 2009 Frederick Marino and Aurelien Bessot set up an investment company, FM Capital Partners (FMCP) based in Knightsbridge, London, to make investments on behalf of the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio (LAIP).
These investments were structured through Swiss Investment Banker, Yoshiki Ohmura, generating finder fees that were under declared and laundered through a series of shell companies set up in the Seychelles and the Cayman Islands by the defendants.
Between 2009 and 2014, the three men caused LAIP to lose 8.45m US dollars.
Concerns were originally discovered in 2014, after the Libyan revolution, when the Libyan Board members of FMCP instigated a full investigation into the management and investment of their funds. An independent auditor conducted a thorough investigation including the seizure and analysis of around 5 million company records and produced a 350 page final report.
While being formally interviewed by the auditors, Marino walked out and fled to Norway. Following this, the NCA began a complex seven year investigation, involving numerous jurisdictions for witnesses and evidence, in particular Libya, Switzerland, the UAE, Monaco and Guernsey.
Richard Harrison, Branch Commander of the NCA said: “This has been an extremely complex investigation with multi-jurisdictional challenges. The NCA is committed to tackling fraud and those who abuse the UK’s financial centre to facilitate their crimes. This seven year investigation demonstrates that we will work relentlessly to pursue those involved.
“These funds ultimately belonged to the Libyan people and the defendants deliberately abused their professional positions to deprive them of vast sums of money for their own personal gain. The NCA’s investigation has also identified criminal property and assets which will be pursued to help recover the victims’ losses. I would like to thank all those who have supported this investigation and dedicated considerable time and resource to secure this successful prosecution.”
Andrew West of the CPS: “These three fraudsters were calculating in committing offences that left the people of Libya out of pocket by approximately $8.45 million for purely selfish and greedy purposes to fund their lavish lifestyles. They showed a complete disregard for the important position they held to make investments work for their clients who were looking to diversify away from solely oil revenues.
“We will be pursuing ill-gotten gains from the proceeds of these crimes.”
8 December 2022