Two financiers who took millions from Libyan regime jailed

Two financiers who pocketed millions of pounds in secret fees from Colonel Gaddafi’s Libyan regime are jailed for total of 11 years

  • Frederic Marino, 56, and Yoshiki Ohmura, 47, received money from Libya 
  • The pair were jailed for 11 years in total as Aurelien Bessot, 47, escaped prison
  • Read more: British security guard turned spy for Putin at Berlin embassy  

Financiers who profited from millions of pounds from the corrupt Libyan regime under colonel Gaddafi have been jailed for a total of 11 years. 

Former JP Morgan banker Frederic Marino, 56, and amateur racing driver Yoshiki Ohmura, 47, received commissions through Libyan Africa Portfolio Ltd (LAP) for more than five years.

Marino set up the FM Capital Partners Ltd, which was responsible for a total of $800m managed for LAP, with business partner Aurelien Bessot, 47. 

Merino and Ohmura were both jailed for fraud by abuse of position of trust at Southwark Crown Court while Bessot was handed a suspended sentence. 

The judge presiding said Merino had exploited the collective wealth of Libyans and shown no remorse. 

Former JP Morgan banker Frederic Marino, 56, and amateur racing driver Yoshiki Ohmura, 47, were both jailed for fraud by abuse of position 

Marino set up the FM Capital Partners Ltd, which was responsible for a total of $800m managed for the Libyan African Portfolio (LAP). Colonel Gaddafi pictured with Tony Blair in 2007 (file image)

Marino blew company cash on clothes and restaurant bills, including running up a £165,000 bill at the five-star Lanesborough Hotel in Knightsbridge, spending a whopping £42,000 spent on parking.

The Frenchman did not attend his two month trial after suffering a mental breakdown and he was convicted of fraud by abuse of position of trust despite denying the charges.

Marino was jailed for a total of seven and a half years in his absence at Southwark Crown Court.

Fellow director Ohmura, the team principle of Switzerland’s Formula 2000 racing team Squadra Corse, denied but was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position of trust between February 1, 2009 and October 31, 2014.

Ohmura did not attend the sentencing as he is thought to be in Switzerland and was jailed for a total of three and a half years in his absence.

Marino’s business partner Aurelien Bessot earlier admitted fraud by abuse of position. He was the only one to attend court and he was handed a suspended jail sentence of 15 months suspended for two years.

Judge Tony Baumgartner issued warrants for the arrests of the two absent financiers and said of Marino:

‘As far as I know you remain at liberty in Paris. Your failure to surrender serves to underscore your lack of insight into your offending and you have shown no remorse whatsoever for what you have done.

‘You are in my judgement a greedy corrupt and manipulative man. You thought nothing of your offending or how it would affect others including Ohmura and Bessott.

‘You targeted the collective wealth of the Libyan people as a group. You have shown no remorse.’

Bessot was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment suspended for two years as Judge Baumgartner said: ‘You are truly remorseful’

‘You have been robbed of a career which is the dream of many. You did all you could to assist the prosecution in this case.’

Prosecutor Julian Christopher earlier told the court that the company had received hundreds of millions of dollars but the financiers had been channelling money into offshore companies run by Ohmura. 

Ohmura set up his company to function as an intermediary between Marino’s firm and siphon a 10 per cent cut.

‘In all there are 17 investments made by LAP between 2009 and 2011,’ Mr Christopher said.

‘There were also fees paid to an offshore company supposedly acting as the introducer, arranger, distributer, of the financial products and those fees ended up in the pockets of Mr Marino, Mr Bessot and Mr Ohmura.’

Mr Christopher added that it had to be determined that these payment had not been agreed to by the LAP. 

‘In total $250 million was invested in structured products and these structured products gave rise to the fees concerned.’

Transactions came through Swiss bank Julius Baer, Deutsche Bank and Rabobank, the court heard.

‘Ohmura was employed in Switzerland by Julius Baer group. Mr Ohmura’s job was to be head of Global Asset Management (GAM) structured investments and he did that job from Switzerland. He left GAM on 31 August 2009.’

Ohmura went on to set up both Conquest Capital Ltd and Conquest Capital Partners and was paid $625,000 for siphoning more than three million dollars for Marino. 

Mr Christopher said: ‘2011 was a momentous year in Libya because up to that point the Libyan leader was Colonel Gaddafi, in what was referred to as the Arab Spring.

‘What followed was a period of considerable instability and Libya was subject to international sanctions.

Marino was responsible for creating and selling financial products at Rabobank before moving to JP Morgan, the court heard.

‘Marino’s job involved working in Libya. He had contact with those responsible for working with Libya’s work funds.’

Matthew Sherratt, defending Marino, said it was not a fraud that targeted vulnerable people and the offending could not be separated from the Gaddafi regime. 

Prosecutor Julian Christopher said: ‘2011 was a momentous year in Libya because up to that point the Libyan leader was Colonel Gaddafi, in what was referred to as the Arab Spring’ (file image of Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddafi in 2007)

‘We are dealing with a sovereign wealth fund with enormous wealth.’

Judge Baumgartner: ‘What about the people of Libya?’ 

Mr Sherratt replied: ‘You can’t divorce this from the Gadaffi regime. Hundreds of millions were taken from the Libyan people by the regime.’

‘That doesn’t make this offending any better’ said Judge Baumgartner.

Mr Sherratt said: ‘In terms of high impact it would not have had a high impact on the people of Libya in the context of what was going on at the time.’

He added: ‘This is a very long time to be gnawing away at someone’s life day in and day out.’

Defending Bessot, Jonathan Barnard said: ‘He was a very very hard working, very bright young man. He has always been something of a geek.

‘It is not something he forced himself to do. He has always taken pure delight in numbers. The best place to indulge himself was in the financial markets.’

‘All say this offence was completely out of character’

‘Of course he should have walked away. He wasn’t doing it because he was greedy.’

The despotic tyrant Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed following the Arab Spring in 2011, was the head of the Libyan regime for decades (file picture from 2011)

‘He (Marino) was extremely controlling. He seemed to be on a power trip, enjoying the fact that in his mind he he was running his own company.

‘He could be quite a bully and a bit tyrannical.’

Bessot has paid back more than what he had gained in 2016 by half a million dollars and the court heard he was ‘ashamed’ of his actions.

‘He has literally put his money where his mouth is. The victims were satisfied.’

Adrian Waterman, defending Ohmura said: ‘This is a man of impeccably good character. The time lapse is very considerable indeed.

‘The impact on him will be very significant indeed. The career which he pursued with energy and which he was proud of will for the remainder of his life be denied to him.’

Andrew West of the CPS said: ‘These three fraudsters were calculating and opportunistic in committing offences that left the people of Libya out of pocket by approximately $8.45 million for purely selfish and greedy purposes to fund their lavish lifestyles.

‘They showed a complete disregard for the important position they held to make investments work for their clients who were looking to diversify away from solely oil revenues.

‘We would like to thank the hard work and dedication of the National Crime Agency in their diligent and determined investigation.’

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