48-year-old trader Nicholas Levene ran one of the most successful 'Ponzi' schemes in history, cashing in £316 million ($505 / €395 million) before getting caught.Levene, alias Beano, a nickname he had chosen after reading the popular comic book, would convince investors he had access to certain otherwise unmarketable stocks, delivering results periodically to keep his clients out of the loop on how their funds were being used.
He was running a legit business, actually delivering substantial earnings, before the stock market came crashing down. As victims caught on, he was forced to file for bankruptcy, the Daily Mail informs.
After they pressed charges, that lead to an arrest for fraud, the Serious Fraud Office uncovered he had lost £32 million ($51 / €40 million) between April 2005 and September 2009.
Levene has previously pleaded guilty to 14 counts – 12 counts of fraud, obtaining a bank transfer through deceptive means, and false accounting throughout the past years.
The former deputy chairman of Leyton Orient Football Club had used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, chartering private jets, yachts and buying properties including a £2 million ($3.2 / €2.5 million) eight-bedroom mansion in Barnet, North London and a £5 million ($8 / €6.3 million) villa in Israel, which is decorated with the works of painter Marc Chagall.
He has been sentenced to 13 years in Southwark Crown Court. Presiding Judge Martin Beddoe dubbed his actions a “determined and utterly dishonest course of offending for your own aggrandisement.”
Levene's own father, an electrician, testified against him.
“[His lifestyle is] beyond comprehension and understanding explained only by that monster, greed,” he said.
“You were truly addicted to greed and a lifestyle that you did not really have the skills or imagination to achieve. [...] The sums are staggering...it has involved so many acts and moments of betrayal of people who... clearly believed they were your friends,” the judge concluded.