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City fund managers sentenced to 12 years for $8m fraud

Three fund managers have been sentenced to a total of 12 years and 3 months following their conviction for a fraud which resulted in losses of $8.45 million to the Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund.

A seven year NCA investigation, which began after one of the fund managers, Frederic Marino, walked of a 2014 meeting with financial auditors and fled to Norway, found that Yoshika Ohmura, Aurelien Bessot and Marino had abused their positions to conduct fraudulent trades whilst managing the fund worth around 822m.

Yesterday, Marino and Ohmura were sentenced to 7 years 6 months and 3 years 6 months respectively, while Bessot was handed a 15 month suspended sentence.

In 2009 French nationals 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).

The NCA investigation, supported by the Crown Prosecution Service, found that 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. The NCA then began its investigation, involving numerous jurisdictions for witnesses and evidence, in particular Libya, Switzerland, the UAE, Monaco and Guernsey.

Marina and Ohmura were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position at Southwark Crown Court in December. Bessot pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position of trust prior to the start of the trial.

Richard Harrison, Branch Commander of the NCA said: “This has been an extremely complex investigation with multi-jurisdictional challenges. These sentences send a clear message to anyone in the financial sector about the consequences of abusing their position. The NCA is committed to tackling fraud and those who abuse the UK’s financial centre to facilitate their crimes.”

Rachael Herbert, Deputy Director of the National Economic Crime Centre said:
“The defendants deliberately abused their professional positions to commit fraud to acquire vast sums of money for their own personal gain. This successful investigation demonstrates the NCA can disrupt complex fraud through law enforcement collaboration, both nationally and internationally.”

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