Fleming Family investigation clears executive of involvement in gun-running

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The Independent Online

An investigation into alleged gun-running during the Bosnian war has disrupted the otherwise pukka world of Fleming Family and Partners, the fund manager established by former directors of the blue-blooded Robert Fleming investment bank.

The company, housed in discreet Mayfair offices, likes to keep a low profile. But one of its executive directors has become the talk of Moscow society after being linked to the seizure in Venice seven years ago of an arms shipment destined for Serbia.

An Italian judge said last week that Mark Garber, who is among Fleming's three executive directors, appeared not to be implicated in the shipment and withdrew a warrant out for his arrest.

However, reports that the arms transaction went through a bank account held by one of Mr Garber's companies have caused discomfort for a man widely respected among Russians for his intellect as well as his business acumen ­ and now risk embarrassing some of the City of London's grandest grandees.

Fleming's board includes Sir Roger Gibbs, a director of Arsenal FC and former chairman of the Wellcome Trust, Sir John Craven, the former Morgan Grenfell chief, Lord Renwick of Clifton, a director of British Airways, and four members of the Fleming dynasty.

A spokesman for them said: "The board of Fleming Family and Partners has thoroughly investigated the alleged involvement of Mark Garber in this matter. It is fully satisfied that Mr Garber has not been involved in any wrongdoing."

Mr Garber is among Russia's early entrepreneurs. A former doctor, his business career began with the distribution of music and videos. Later he set up one of Russia's first investment banks, which he sold to Robert Fleming in 1998.

The Fleming family knows all about weaponry. Its most famous member, Ian Fleming, wrote the James Bond novels after being sent on a sabbatical by the bank.

The investment bank was bought by Chase Manhattan for £4bn last year.

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