Former City stockbroker Nicholas Levene has been jailed for 13 years for “unprecedented” fraud, running a Ponzi scheme worth £32m.
The former deputy chairman of Leyton Orient defrauded a string of investors, many of them Jewish or Israeli, and blew £18m on parties and holidays, as well as numerous properties in Israel.
Reportedly, when he was refused his usual presidential suite at the Royal Beach Hotel in Eilat, Israel, he moored a super-yacht outside the hotel, and hosted a string of lavish parties, culminating in a firework display designed to keep the hotel owner awake.
Israeli investor victims included Yigal Ahouvi, who was tricked into handing over £14.9 m; Micky Dorsman, the owner of the Hapoel Holon basketball team; and Moshe Allalouf, a shipping magnate.
Levene, who pleaded guilty to 14 charges of fraud, deception and false accounting, was criticised by the judge for his extravagant lifestyle, particularly his second son’s barmitzvah. Girl band The Saturdays performed at the event.
Organised by the company which put together Simon Cowell’s 50th birthday party, it cost £588,000.
The 48-year-old also gave money to Jewish charities. In 2006, in a JC feature on philanthropists, he said: “I will always give to Israel charities…. I promote Yiddishkeit in the UK. I like to give to Lubavitch and to help the elderly.”
The following year he attended a Jewish Association for Business Ethics seminar given by Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, entitled: “Private Equity, Ethics and Investing other people’s money’”.
Levene moved to Netanya from Stanmore at 15 when his parents, Anne and Martin, made aliyah. He was dismissed from the IDF for unknown reasons.
Properties that have been sold following his bankruptcy in 2009 include a $5.5 million Herzliya home, registered in the name of his wife Tracey, and a $700,000 Ramat Hasharon home registered in the name of his sister Sarah. Both were bought with Levene’s money.