Levitt made deal with SFO to avoid jail, lawyer says

BY JOHN WILLCOCK

Financial Correspondent

Investment adviser Roger Levitt agreed a plea bargain with the Serious Fraud Office to avoid a prison sentence when he was convicted of fraudulent trading, his solicitor claimed yesterday.

The SFO has always rejected claims that it had struck a deal with Levitt when he was sentenced to 180 hours' community service after admitting he misled City regulators.

John Perry, the solicitor who represented Levitt, told Radio Five Live last night that the SFO's counsel had twice approached the defence with a plea bargain, which the defence rejected. Later, Levitt's counsel proposed that certain charges be dropped in return for a guilty plea to a less serious offence.

Today, a Conservative MP, John Marshall, will ask the Attorney General, Sir Nicholas Lyell, in the Commons whether he misled the House in November 1993 when he denied that any plea bargain had taken place. The sentence given to Mr Levitt caused a furore after his investment company crashed with debts of pounds 34m.

The SFO denied agreeing to any plea bargains 18 months ago, and reaffirmed that position when told of Mr Perry's claim. Mr Perry said that after rejecting the SFO's two overtures another case grabbed his attention in which a man pleaded guilty to "rather a serious fraud. He got a suspended sentence."

On Sunday 21 November, 1993, Mr Perry discussed this case with Levitt. The following week, he approached the prosecution suggesting the basis on which Levitt would plead guilty to a minor matter, but which was conditional on receiving an indication that he would not receive an immediate custodial sentence. An agreement was struck and Levitt changed his plea to guilty to misleading the investment regulator, Fimbra.

Mr Marshall, after being told about Mr Perry's claims, said: "I am very troubled indeed over this allegation that the Attorney General misled, no doubt unwittingly, the House of Commons." The Attorney General's office referred questions on the Levitt case to the SFO.

Levitt, now a boxing promoter, was prosecuted alongside his former managing director, Mark Reed, 40, who was sentenced to 120 hours' community service. Both men admitted fraudulent trading with intent to defraud creditors by deceiving Fimbra, the City watchdog.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Laws said that while fraudulent trading carried a maximum of seven years' imprisonment, he felt justice "required him" to compare the men's crimes with the less serious offence of making false and misleading statements. That carried an upper limit of two years in jail.

Last week a spokeswoman for the SFO said it stuck to its position after the trial, despite Mr Perry's claims: "We didn't offer (a plea) - but we accepted one."

When asked whether the SFO had twice approached the defence with a proposed plea bargain, the spokeswoman said: "I have no knowledge of that."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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 General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee