High Flying Stockbrocker Admits to "Ponzi" Fraud

A high flying City stockbroker today admitted carrying out a £32million ‘ponzi’ fraud and was told to expect a long prison term.

Nicholas Levene, 48, the former deputy chairman of Leyton Orient FC, cheated investors by promising them high returns on their deposits but instead pocketed much of the cash.

Levene, nicknamed ‘Beano’ because of his schoolboy love of the comic, kept customers happy by using other investors’ money to give the impression he was earning them healthy yields.

He would then falsify documents to make it look like he had bought them shares or made them profits when in fact they were being stolen from.

Levene, who had been due to stand trial next month, appeared in the dock at Southwark Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to the four year-long scam.

Investors were heard to have been offered shares in a range of companies, including HSBC Holdings Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland, Imperial Energy Ltd and Rio Tinto Plc.

Among his victims were Stagecoach Group co-founders brother and sister Brian Souter and Ann Gloag who lost £10m to Levene.

In April 2007 Levene tricked Yigal Ahouvi into paying £14,900,000 into an account in Monaco held in the name of Niblick Investments SA claiming it would be used to buy shares in Delek Global Real Estate and cover transaction costs.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said: ‘The fraud counts to which Mr Leven has now pleaded guilty are in the sum of £32,352,027.83.’

Levene had faced five further counts, including allegations he had used two forged contract notes purportedly showing he owned almost £60m worth of shares in HSBC Holdings Plc.

Mr Edis said: ‘The other counts on the indictment to which he’s not entered pleas will in due course, we submit, be ordered to lie on the file.’

 Judge Martin Beddoe refused an application for a pre-sentence report saying: ‘There’s only one type of sentence I can pass’.

He later added: ‘You will appreciate, as I am sure you have known for a very long time, how, obviously, this is a very serious matter.

‘Although you will get credit for your pleas of guilty there will inevitably be, in your case, substantial sentences of imprisonment for the 14 offences you have publicly accepted your criminal responsibility for today.

‘I think the justice of the situation is that your bail should continue notwithstanding the very serious position you are in and the inevitability of the sentences that must follow.’

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