Lawyers face £34m fraud investigation

Three prominent Jewish lawyer brothers are embroiled in an alleged multi-million pound fraud case in Gibraltar.

London-based Isaac Marrache and his brothers, Benjamin and Solomon, who own and run the Marrache & Co firm, have all been declared bankrupt and face a range of charges.

Benjamin and Solomon, who run the firm's Gibraltar office, were declared bankrupt in early May by Gibraltar's Supreme Court, which claims that the pair have stashed money in Israel and Panama.

The company is now in administration and specialists are investigating claims against it totalling £34 million.

Sources close to the family say the conflict between the brothers over the case has already become "very vicious".

Isaac, of Hampstead Garden Suburb, was declared bankrupt a few days after his brothers having voluntarily returned to Gibraltar from London to answer investigators' questions.

He was then arrested and charged by police. His London branch office has closed with no losses to clients.

Isaac is charged with diverting funds from the law firm's Canadian dollar client account to other accounts under his control between November 2007 and November 2009.

A second charge alleges a property owned by a client of the firm was used by Isaac to fraudulently obtain an overdraft from a local branch.

He has been bailed on condition that he provides £400,000 in sureties and surrenders his travel documents amid fears he might flee the jurisdiction.

Benjamin and Solomon face separate charges of false accounting. They have been remanded in custody in Moorish Castle, a medieval fortification which now houses Gibraltar's main prison, since February.

The case is expected to take around 18 months to be tried in Gibraltar's courts.

Jonathan Goldberg QC, representing Isaac Marrache, said: "He is mortified that the once highly successful and reputable firm he established on his own many years ago has apparently been plundered to the extent that clients have lost their money and loyal employees their jobs.

"The fact that certain close members of his family may be implicated is heartbreaking to him."

Mr Goldberg said his client denied any criminal wrongdoing and had a "very different side of the story to tell".

    Last updated: 1:48pm, May 21 2010