A former City stockbroker who ran a £32 million "Ponzi" fraud blew more than half the money on a life of luxury, and defrauded a string of investors, many of them Jewish or Israeli. But Judge Martin Beddoe, at Southwark Crown Court, told Nicholas Levene that his fraud was "unprecedented" and on Monday jailed the 48-year-old for 13 years.
Levene offered shares in blue-chip companies, including HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Imperial Energy and Rio Tinto. One victim, Israeli investor Yigal Ahouvi, was tricked into handing over £14.9 million. Meanwhile Levene, a former chairman of Leyton Orient FC, and nicknamed "Beano", for his love of the comic, spent £18m on flying friends to St Tropez, hiring super yachts and hosting £10,000 a day pheasant shoots. He was said to have spent £588,000 on his son's barmitzvah.
He claimed he had access to shares unavailable to ordinary investors, which he would trade at a supposedly huge profit. But instead of buying shares, Levene was betting his victims' funds on the stock market.
When prices went up Levene was able to pay clients but when prices fell he duped new investors in order to pay off the spread betting firms.
Levene, of Barnet Road, Barnet, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of fraud, one count of obtaining a money transfer by deception, and one count of false accounting. The fraud lasted for four years from April 2005, and among his victims were Simon Holden, Marvin Mermelstein, Akiva Klein, and Jacob Sofer.