Stockbroker jailed over Ponzi fraud
A stockbroker who defrauded some of Britain's shrewdest business people to live a life of luxury has been jailed for 13 years.
He was locked up at Southwark Crown Court, in London, after he admitted ripping off a series of high-fliers, including Sir Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag, the founders of the Stagecoach bus and rail group; Richard Caring, owner of The Ivy and Le Caprice restaurants in London's West End; and Russell Bartlett, director of the R3 Investment Group and former owner of Hull City Football Club.
Levene, nicknamed Beano because of his childhood love of the comic book, was a successful City worker with an estimated wealth of between £15 million and £20 million in 2005.
But he was addicted to gambling, spending fortunes on spread betting, and had an insatiable taste for luxury.
Levene, who has been seen by psychiatrists from The Priory, admitted one count of false accounting, one of obtaining a money transfer by deception, and 12 counts of fraud.
The amount attributed to Levene's false accounting was £32,352,270. But with his customers' lost profits, the amount shot up to a total of £101,685,406.
Serious Fraud Office investigators discovered that during the four years of 48-year-old Levene's offending, he paid out £310 million from his accounts.
Some of the money was given to investors to keep them temporarily happy but he also spent massive amounts on schools for his children, cars, flash holidays for his family, yachts and properties, including a home in Israel.
Levene, a former deputy chairman of Leyton Orient Football Club, and of Barnet Road, Barnet, Hertfordshire, would take from Peter to pay Paul and shift the funds between accounts in financial havens Jersey, Switzerland and Israel, the court heard.