A millionaire socialite and convicted fraudster claimed in court that he has been made to overpay £2m from the proceeds of the sale of his 24-bedroom London mansion to settle a multimillion pound confiscation order arising from his crimes.
Edward “Fast Eddie” Davenport, who styles himself as a lord and describes himself as “one of Britain’s most flamboyant entrepreneurs”, made £27m earlier this year from the sale of 33 Portland Place, his house in Marylebone in central London which was used as a location for The King’s Speech as well as the venue for upscale swingers’ parties.
The imposed sale followed Davenport’s conviction in 2011 along with eight others for his part in Gresham Ltd, a company which presented itself as a finance house with 50 years’ experience in arranging large commercial loans but was in reality a swindle securing “advance-fee” payments from clients for deals that failed to materialise. The company had no connection with Gresham Financial, an established wealth management house.
Davenport, 49, was jailed for seven years and eight months but was released last year on grounds of ill health. At his trial it was alleged that the dapper self-styled peer, with a penchant for Savile Row suits and party circuit pictures posed alongside a roll call of celebrities, had benefited from the scheme to the tune of £4m.
Prosecutors said despite taking on the trappings of a blue-chip venture capital house with glossy brochures and adverts in the Financial Times, Gresham Ltd had been effectively “worthless”.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced last year it was seeking a confiscation and compensation order against Davenport worth for proceeds arising from Gresham Ltd.
The order forced the socialite, who claims to split his time between London and Monaco, to sell 33 Portland Place, which had previously been the Sierra Leonean High Commission. It was reputedly bought by Davenport at a bargain price in 1999 while the West African country was in the grip of a ruinous civil war.
While under the ownership of the entrepreneur, who made his money as the promoter of the louche Gatecrasher Balls during the 1980s, the house was used for events from film locations, including an Amy Winehouse music video, to “elite” sex parties under the brand Killing Kittens.
Davenport, who claims on his website to own a fleet of sports cars along with a private jet, returned to the Court of Appeal yesterday to claim he had been the victim of “double counting” by the SFO in its confiscation and compensation order.
Lawyers for the businessman, who was present in court, allege that the £1.9m he has paid in compensation was part of an original sum of £12m sought against him. But instead he has paid close to £14m and is due to be refunded the disputed difference of nearly £2m, it is claimed.
The SFO disputes the claim and has asked for Davenport’s appeal to be dismissed. A panel of three judges will deliver a ruling at a later date.
In the meantime, the entrepreneur, who was once estimated by the Daily Mail to be worth £130m, said he was hoping to rebuild his career by returning to his previous role as a party organiser.
He told The Independent: “Unfortunately I was ill when I was in prison but I am getting back on my feet. It was one offence and I am trying to rebuild my life with buying and selling property and networking events. I was quite successful at organising parties.”
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