Nicholas Levene
Nicholas Levene admitted defrauding high-net-worth individuals of £32m.[Reuters]

The 'Beano' City stockbroker Nicholas Levene has been sentenced to 13 years in jail after defrauding investors of £32 million to fund an extravagant lifestyle.

Levene, 48, pleaded guilty to the four-year scam at Southwark Crown Court in September. He was found guilty of 12 counts of fraud, one of false accounting and another of obtaining a money-transfer through deception.

The judge said the scale of the fraud was "unprecedented."

Judge Martin Beddoe said: "You were truly addicted to greed, and a lifestyle that you did not really have the skills or imagination to achieve.

"It was well planned and professionally executed, it involved huge sums and huge profits, there were multiple victims whose trust in you was grossly abused, it lasted a very long period of time, it was well concealed and you took further steps to conceal it when it began to be found out."

The judge told Levene that his actions were "determined and utterly dishonest", and that he had "grossly abused" his victims' trust. He also said that Levene's own father had said his son's lifestyle could only be explained by an addiction to greed.

The stockbroker ran an elaborate 'Ponzi' scheme, whereby he persuaded high-net-worth individuals to give him millions of pounds.

Levene, who got the nickname, Beano, because of his love of the schoolboy comic, used the £32,352,027.83 to fund his lifestyle, which included the use of a private- jet, a Bentley and a £2 million Hertfordshire Tudor house with cinema and swimming pool.

The firms he defrauded included; HSBC, Rio Tinto, Tadco Limited and Stagecoach group. The latter, owned by brother and sister Brian and Ann Gloag, lost £10 million.

After being found guilty, Judge Martin Beddore had told the defendant to expect a "substantial sentence of imprisonment", adding:

"There's only one type of sentence I can pass. You will appreciate, as I am sure you have known for a very long time, how, obviously, this is a very serious matter.

"Although you will get credit for your pleas of guilty there will inevitably be, in your case, substantial sentences of imprisonment for the 14 offences you have publicly accepted your criminal responsibility for today.

"I think the justice of the situation is that your bail should continue notwithstanding the very serious position you are in and the inevitability of the sentences that must follow."

Levene had also faced five further charges, including allegations he forged two contract notes, which claimed he owned almost £60 million of shares in HSBC Holdings Ltd.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said: "The other counts on the indictment to which he's not entered pleas will in due course, we submit, be ordered to lie on the file."

Levene's famous friends included; property developers, the Tchenguiz brothers, Topshop owner Sir Philip Green and music mogul Simon Cowell. He would take them on holiday to the South of France and host pheasant shooting days costing £10,000 at a time.

His fraud began in April 2005, after he persuaded Tadco Ltd., to part with over half-a-million pounds, saying he would buy shares in Imperial Energy Plc.

In 2007, he tricked Iranian businessman, Igal Ahouvi, into paying almost £15 million into an account in Monoco held in the name of Niblick Investments SA. Levene said the money would be used to buy shares in Delek Global Real Estate.

Levene was charged with fraud, forgery, money-laundering and false accounting in March last year. He was charged at Snow Hill police station after a 15-month investigation conducted by the Serious Fraud office.

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