Who's suing who

THE Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is seeking confiscation and compensation orders to recover over pounds 1.5m from two husband and wife teams, one Russian and one British, who were sentenced to jail yesterday for a sophisticated international fraud.

The defendants pleaded guilty earlier this year to inducing some 700 businesses in the former Soviet Union to pay travelling and hotel costs for senior executives to attend non-existent management seminars in California in the summer of 1996.

Together, the police from Thames Valley and Russia believe they have traced all the losers, and are embarking on the legal trail to return the money to the victims.

At Isleworth Crown Court yesterday Svetlana Kouznetsova, 34, was sentenced to 2 years for conspiracy to defraud. She was the prime mover behind the fraud and acknowledged all the facts of the Crown's case. Her husband, Igor Falkovsky, 35, was sentenced to jail for money laundering - the first time the SFO has ever brought a money laundering charge.

Michael Newman, 39, received 3 years for furnishing false information for accounting purposes, while his wife Maria, 31, got 18 months for conspiracy to go equipped to cheat.

Many thousands of glossy brochures for the "Investco Corporation", a company registered in Bermuda, were printed in Reading with the sole aim of enticing businesses in the Ukraine and Russia to part with their money.

Kouznetsova produced the brochure in Russian with the help of the Newmans and sent it out via a mail distribution service at Heathrow Airport in 1996.

The brochure claimed Investco was "a founder member of the Roosevelt Foundation", a charity said to be sponsoring the courses. There is no evidence the Roosevelt Foundation exists.

The brochure also claimed that Investco had "a turnover of US$850 million in 1995". In fact it was bought by Newman and Kouznetsova from an English company formation agent called "OCRA" in early 1996.

In response to the brochure, which invented a series of non-existent lecturers from institutions like Yale University, Russian businesses sent money to Investco accounts in London and Geneva.

Correspondence from the victims was directed to mail drop addresses in California, Luxembourg and Belgium, from where it was forwarded to further mail drop addresses in Reading and London.

The SFO said yesterday: "Kouznetsova and Falkovsky operated only from these addresses and used only mobile telephones. This made finding them difficult."

"They were eventually caught when they were stopped in the City of London driving a car which was circulated as being of interest to Thames Valley Police," the SFO said.

The defendants benefited from the money by filtering it through a series of accounts under false names in countries as varied as Andorra and Guernsey.

In the early part of the SFO investigation, the Newmans went to live in Spain. Michael Newman was arrested in August 1997 while visiting Switzerland. He was extradited from Switzerland in September last year. After that his wife returned voluntarily from Spain to face trial.

THE Financial Services Authority (FSA) won a series of court orders this week against Steven Rhodes, an unauthorised share dealer who the FSA claims tried to sell shares in an American company to investors in South Africa, Ireland and Jersey.

Mr Rhodes carried on his business from offices in Jermyn Street in London under the name "Stirling Montague & Speke." The High Court granted the FSA a world-wide freeze over Mr Rhodes's assets and ordered him to repatriate all funds he might hold overseas. It is understood that the FSA is seeking to recover about pounds 250,000 which investors handed over in the belief that they were buying shares in International Resorts and Entertainment Group, a Florida-based hotels company. The company has said any such share purchases were "null and void."

MARCELLA Levy-Aston, better known as "Marcella Detroit" out of Shakespeare's Sister, the formerly popular young persons' beat combo, has issued a writ against her record company.

The statuesque chanteuse, who lives in Camarillo, California, is seeking to clarify what royalties she is owed by FFRR Records, trading as London Records, of Chancellors House, Chancellors Road, London.

Ms Levy-Aston is seeking between pounds 10,000 and pounds 50,000. Her writ seeks "damages for breach of contract" and "equitable compensation for breach of fiduciary duty" in respect of six separate contracts agreed with the record company, stretching from 19 July 1988 to December 1993.

Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, Finance, MSc, PhD)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, F...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone