Talke Stauss is the chief executive at ATG Investment Managers Ltd
Talke Stauss is the chief executive at ATG Investment Managers Ltd

A chief executive was duped out of more than £600,000 by her lover who claimed to be a wealthy investor.

German businesswoman Talke Stauss, 46, believed Rizwan Butt when he said he was the go-between for a potential investment into her hedge fund worth more than £900m ($1.5bn), it was alleged in court.

Butt said he would introduce her to her to Middle Eastern investors and open a Swiss bank account.

But Stauss, chief executive of ATG Investment Managers, did not realise that Butt, 44, was not an investor with international connections but the owner of a cleaning company who still lived at home with his mother in a terraced street in Manchester.

After telling Stauss that he loved her, Butt asked for £625,000 as a "security deposit" to clinch the billion-dollar deal. Butt said that the cash would "demonstrate the legitimacy and viability" of ATG.

Stauss handed over the money without undertaking any sort of background check on Butt, the court was told.

The flag was only raised after fellow ATG director Eddie George did research on Butt and found that he owned a cleaning company with assets of just £657.

When Stauss asked for the money back, Butt initially agreed. However, four weeks later he was stopped by police driving a £40,000 Audi Q7 and carrying £1,000 in cash. He was discovered to have recently bought a house for £175,000.

At Manchester Crown Court, Stauss said: "He said he fell in love with me. I was then charmed and fell in love with him.

"The nature of the relationship was too deep for comfort. I was under additional pressure when he confessed his love. I reciprocated and regret that very much.

"He indicated I was a prized possession and would bring success for the company. I gave in to the pressure. It was supposed to be an in-and-out payment and would come back to us in two banking days.

"When Eddie said: 'You are being conned, this is a fraud,' my mind changed. We were so shocked."

Wealthy and practised investor

Paul Dockery, prosecuting, said: "The Stausses were impressed by the defendant's knowledge of investments, global economics and wealth fund opportunities in the Middle East. Mr Butt said he wanted to make a significant investment in the hedge fund.

"But he was dishonest from the outset and created an image about himself as being a wealthy, knowledgeable and practised investor with genuine investment connections.

"The reality was that he was presenting a false existence in an endeavour to make financial gain whenever he could.

"Talke Stauss particularly was deluded and so keen to gain wealthy investors for her hedge fund that she did not make the most basic check on the defendant's background."

The court heard how Stauss and Butt would exchange texts in which Butt would reassure her that the money had been transferred into his account and would be deposited into hers.

Butt claimed on his arrest that the deal had fallen through as ATG did not have a relevant trading licence.

He denies fraud, false representation, transferring criminal property and money laundering.

The case continues.