Wednesday 28 September 2016

'Olympian' fraudster ordered to pay record €55.7m after being convicted of swindling millionaire investors

Published 12/01/2016 | 11:48

The trial had heard how Somaia never invested the money he borrowed or repaid it, but instead used it for his own purposes or to prop up his ailing business empire.
The trial had heard how Somaia never invested the money he borrowed or repaid it, but instead used it for his own purposes or to prop up his ailing business empire.

A "truly Olympian" fraudster has been ordered to pay a record £38.6 million after being convicted of swindling millionaire investors following the biggest private prosecution of its kind in Britain.

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Last July, former tycoon Ketan Somaia, 53, was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of conning two businessmen out of loans in 1999 and 2000 which were never repaid.

The Old Bailey prosecution was brought privately by the main victim, Murli Mirchandani, who complained during the trial that he was down to his "last £250 million".

Judge Richard Hone QC made a confiscation order on Tuesday, with £18.2 million to go to Mr Mirchandani and £20.4 million to go into the public purse.

In his ruling, the judge said: "Ketan Somaia has to be described as a formidable and serial fraudsman on a truly Olympian scale."

Mr Mirchandani pursued justice at the Old Bailey at very significant financial cost to himself and despite suffering from ill-health, the court heard.

Sentencing last year, Judge Hone had said Somaia, who was also in poor health, had been "fundamentally dishonest" in his dealings with Mr Mirchandani and Dilip Shah.

The trial had heard how Somaia never invested the money he borrowed or repaid it, but instead used it for his own purposes or to prop up his ailing business empire.

Somaia took loans of between 865,000 US dollars (£500,000) and 7.5 million US dollars (£4.4 million) from Mr Mirchandani and 200,000 US dollars (£117,000) from Mr Shah, the court heard.

The total sum - 19.7 million US dollars - amounted to £13.5 million at the exchange rates from the time.

The defendant, who was born in Kenya and lived in Bayswater, west London, had shown similar dishonest behaviour towards a third investor and tried to evade justice until he was brought to account in a British court.

He was found guilty of nine counts of obtaining money transfers by deception in 1999 and 2000. He was cleared of a further two counts.

Press Association

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