Tyrant: Colonel Gaddafi died in 2011
A fund manager has been accused of pocketing £11.5million in secret fees from Gaddafi’s Libyan regime in an elaborate fraud.
Frederic Marino is locked in a courtroom battle with FM Capital Partners (FMCP), which he founded, over claims he was paid hidden commissions by Libya.
It is alleged the 51-year-old also blew company cash on clothes, restaurant bills and a helicopter ride – and even ran up a £165,000 bill at the five-star Lanesborough Hotel in London, including £42,000 spent on parking.
FMCP, which was based in Knightsbridge, won a deal to manage £441million for a sovereign wealth fund, the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio, in Colonel Gaddafi’s Libyan regime in 2009.
Described as a mild-mannered Frenchman, Marino quickly became a kingpin in Tripoli and led a team of young Libyan dealers from his west London trading floor.
But the business now claims that Marino and associate Yoshiki Ohmura, a banker, pocketed commissions rather than handing them to FMCP.
Nathan Pillow, representing FMCP in the High Court, said trades were only done so the pair could line their own pockets.
The firm said in court documents that the duo’s alleged deals were ‘motivated by and resulted in their personal enrichment on a grand scale’.
Both men deny the claims and say they were motivated by the commercial benefits of the investments. FMCP was launched in 2009 after a meeting between Marino and Libyan official Abdulfatah Sharif.
Over the next two years, it is alleged that Marino and Ohmura took secret commissions.
Five-star: The Lanesborough Hotel in London where Marino stayed racking up a £165,000 bill
Marino allegedly filtered the cash through two offshore firms, Ironfly and Leopard, while Ohmura is said to have pumped cash into a business called Conquest.
After the 2011 revolution in Libya, the nation’s investment firm investigated FMCP and complained about its actions.
Marino was suspended by September 2014 after questions were raised about a £2.5million payment into his ex-wife’s bank account in Norway. He claims this was his own money, not the firm’s.
£165K HOTEL BILL
- Frederic Marino allegedly blew £165,000 on bills at the five-star Lanesborough Hotel
- This included £42,000 for parking charges
- He allegedly also paid for clothes, restaurant meals and a helicopter ride on a company credit card
- Questions have been raised about a £2.5million payment into his exwife’s bank account in Norway
- It is claimed the fund manager pocketed £11.5m in secret commission payments which should have gone to his business instead
- But Marino claims that he was entitled to the money, for work that was not linked to the business
A month later, acting on advice from his former lawyers, the fund manager sent a whistleblowing letter to the Financial Conduct Authority listing seven payments said to have been undeclared.
FMCP claims this is an admission of guilt but Marino’s current lawyers say he was being treated for severe mental illness in a Norwegian hospital at the time.
They suggest his former legal representatives based it on misunderstandings and Marino was not fit to correct their errors.
He struggles to describe what happened in the run-up to the report being sent, the lawyers claim, adding he has decided not to testify in court after struggling with a difficult decision.
Marino’s lawyers say that the hotel bill and parking fees were for a visiting delegation which came from Libya for an extended period.
They add that he was entitled to the extra commission payments for a separate contract not linked to FMCP.
Marino claims he is being wrongly treated like a criminal, and his barrister James Couser said: ‘It’s shocking how greedy FMCP is, trying to rewrite history to get to Marino’s money.’
Lawyers for Ohmura said: ‘The transactions that gave rise to the fees were carried out on the basis of work performed by highly-skilled individuals working in a complex and competitive field.’ The case continues.
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