QC says Levitt faked invoices

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THE thriller writer Frederick Forsyth was 'blatantly' deceived by his 'great personal friend' and financial adviser Roger Levitt, a court heard yesterday.

The author had asked the businessman to invest pounds 900,000 of his funds in bonds, but instead the money was used to prop up Mr Levitt's tottering empire, Southwark Crown Court was told.

To cover up his dishonesty, Mr Levitt then 'had the gall' to create false invoices and other documents, David Cocks QC, prosecuting, said.

One document claimed that Mr Forsyth, author of Day Of The Jackal and The Dogs Of War, had paid pounds 400,000 for 'commercial advice and negotiations on book rights'. But, in a meeting with the man who had given him financial advice for many years, Mr Forsyth specifically requested that the sum be used to buy investment bonds, Mr Cocks said.

In the dock with Mr Levitt, 44, are: Mark Reed, 39, a Levitt Group board member; Robert Price, 42, finance director; and Alan McNamara, 29, a fellow director.

They all deny a joint charge of fraudulent trading between April 1989 and December 1990, when the group collapsed with debts of pounds 34m.

The Crown has claimed that banks, investors and city regulators were all deceived by Mr Levitt and his three 'underlings'.