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Court orders stockbroker who defrauded £32m to pay nominal £1 fee


A bankrupt stockbroker who defrauded millions of pounds from some of Britain's shrewdest business people was today ordered to pay a nominal £1 fee.

Nicholas Levene, 48, was jailed for 13 years last November after he admitted orchestrating a lucrative Ponzi scheme which raked £316 million into his bank accounts between April 2005 and September 2009.

At Southwark Crown Court today, he was ordered to pay a nominal fee of £1 while an investigation into his assets continues after he filed for bankruptcy in October 2009.

Levene was not in court today. The amount attributed to his false accounting was £32,352,027.

But with his customers' lost profits, the amount shot up to a total of £101,685,406.

Judge Martin Beddoe said: "I certify the benefit to be £32,352,027 and given what I have been told about the issue of Mr Levene's bankruptcy and that the trustee in bankruptcy is confident and has got hold of such assets as were in the possession of Mr Levene in consequence of this offending, it seems to me entirely pragmatic that his assets are seized by the trustee in bankruptcy.

"As there is nothing available, I direct that he should pay the nominal sum of £1 within seven days."

Levene admitted ripping off a series of high-fliers, including Sir Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag, the founders of the Stagecoach bus and rail group; Richard Caring, owner of The Ivy and Le Caprice restaurants in London's West End; and Russell Bartlett, director of the R3 Investment Group and former owner of Hull City Football Club.

Nicknamed Beano because of his childhood love of the comic book, he was a successful City worker with an estimated wealth of £15 million to £20 million in 2005.

But he was addicted to gambling, spending fortunes on spread betting, and had an insatiable taste for luxury.

Levene, of Barnet Road, Barnet, Hertfordshire, a former deputy chairman of Leyton Orient Football Club, admitted one count of false accounting, one of obtaining a money transfer by deception, and 12 of fraud.

He would take from Peter to pay Paul and move the funds between accounts in financial havens Jersey, Switzerland and Israel.

With his network of contacts and strong reputation, he won people's faith with seemingly concrete investment deals from which he would take a commission or fee.

The married father of three took millions of investors' funds, promising to invest the money in lucrative rights-issue releases from companies such as HSBC, Lloyds TSB and mining firms Xstrata and Rio Tinto.

But he dug an ever-deepening financial hole for himself, having to repeatedly "fob off" clients and make excuses about why he could not pay them.

Living the high life, he had a chauffeur-driven Bentley and went on several holidays a year, each lasting several weeks.

Investigators found evidence of round-the-world trips, yacht hire and top hotel stays in Australia, South Africa and Israel.

He had a fleet of high-performance cars and for his second son's bar mitzvah he threw a massive London party with a performance by girl band The Saturdays.

His gambling was huge, with investigators finding evidence of him blowing £720,000 on a cricket match bet in 2007.