'Beano' Levene charged with 11 counts of fraud

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The Independent Online

Bankrupt city financier Nicholas "Beano" Levene was charged with a string of offences including fraud, money laundering and false accounting by police in London yesterday.

After a 15-month investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, Mr Levene faces charges on 11 counts of fraud by misrepresentation, two offences of possession of an article for use in a fraud, two counts of money laundering and one of false accounting.

The erstwhile multimillionairedenies the allegations. He was released on conditional police bail to appearbefore the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court next Friday. As a condition of the bail, Mr Levene has surrendered his passport and is not allowed to travel outside the UK.

Mr Levene became the "runaway banker" in tabloid headlines in 2009 after reports that he had gone missing as insolvency experts at Deloitte probed debts to clients that reportedly ran to a total of more than £200m.

Mr Levene – whose disappearance was later attributed to a stay in The Priory to address problems with a gambling addiction – denied the allegations and claimed his clients understood the risks he was taking on their behalf.

High-profile claimants included Stagecoach founder Brian Souter and his sister, Ann Gloag, and entrepreneur Richard Caring.

Mr Levene – who earned his "Beano" nickname from a childhood love of the comic – left school at 15 with no qualifications before moving up through a string of jobs in finance includingpositions at Phillips & Drew, Tullett, and Trio Equity Derivatives.

He became a well-known figure in the City, with roles in a number of high-profile institutions. He held a vice-chairmanship at Bramdean Asset Management, the company founded by City "superwoman" Nicola Horlick, though he was never an employee of the company and never served on its main board. Mr Levene also served a stint as the vice-chairman of Leyton Orient Football Club.

However, his investment activities were conducted on a freelance basis, with clients making over large sums of money for him to invest on their behalf.