Frederic Marino: Banker accused of using Libyan money to fund lavish lifestyle

Mr Marino enriched himself even as the funds plunged in value, according to a High Court writ

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The Independent Online

A London banker appointed to manage £456m belonging to the Libyan government is facing a legal battle over claims he misappropriated vast sums to fund a lavish lifestyle that involved helicopters and luxury hotels. 

A High Court writ claims that Frederic Marino failed in his duty as a director and employee of FM Capital Partners (FMCP) by enriching himself even as the funds plunged in value, an investigation by the Bloomberg news agency has revealed.

Despite living in west London, the French-born banker is accused of running up a £165,000 bill during a stay at the Lanesborough Hotel, one of London’s top luxury hotels. The bill included £42,000 charges for parking spaces, spa fees of more than £4,000 as well as a £1,600 laundry bill and dry cleaning bill.

It is also alleged he used FMCP’s credit card for more than £225,000 of expenses including clothing, hotel stays and a helicopter ride.

FMCP, which claims it dismissed Mr Marino for gross misconduct in 2014, is suing him for damages and compensation. Mr Marino, 49, who was unavailable for comment, is contesting the claims.

Company documents reveal Mr Marino was a founder and chief executive of FMCP. In 2009, the company was appointed sole asset manager of the US$650m Libyan African Investment Fund.

During the ensuing six year period, Mr Marino and a fellow director approved £51m in bonuses and other payments despite the fact the value of the assets plunged by £45m, the writ claims.

It alleges that Mr Marino and a fellow director took advantage of the 2011 Libyan uprising which led to the overthrow of Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The outbreak of violence meant that his fellow Libyan directors were unable to attend meetings in London where he approved increased payments to himself. The result was the payment of £2.6m bonus, the writ claims. It also says he was paid £250,000 a year even though his contract entitled him to £140,000.

The writ also claims he wrongfully used his company credit card to rack up £27,000 of expenses relating to a separate company owned by Mr Marino. Other funds allegedly misappropriated include £17,000 to a woman he was in a long-term relationship with as well as £500 to his wife. 

Hogan Lovells, lawyers for FMCP, declined to comment on the legal action last night.

Mr Marino, a former JPMorgan Chase banker, stated in a legal submission cited by Bloomberg that substantial increases in his salary and bonus had been approved at board meetings attended by directors representing the Libyan government. FMCP hasn’t provided proof of the sums spent on the company credit card, he said. Jason Woodland, who represents Mr Marino for Peters and Peters, declined to comment about the case. Mr Marino said in his defence filing that all the payments were properly made for services provided, Bloomberg reported.

Meanwhile, the £47bn Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), parent of the Libyan African fund, is suing investment bank Goldman Sachs and French bankers Société Générale , each for more than $1bn losses it alleges occurred through mismanagement. Both banks deny any wrongdoing and are contesting the allegations.

And on 7 March, the High Court will hear a dispute over control of the LIA between two rivals – Hassan Bouhadi and AbdulMagid Breish.

The case, expected to be presided over Judge William Blair, brother of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, will seek to determine which of the two men has the authority to bring litigation against Goldman Sachs and Société Générale.