Geneva judge seeks fraudsters who pocketed SFr100 million
Two conmen have disappeared with some SFr100 million ($56 million) of investors' money after claiming to work for the American financial firm, Stockton Trust. A Geneva judge has received at least 70 complaints from people claiming to have been swindled by the pair.
The two men, a Frenchman identified as Patrick B. and a Swiss called Dominique T., have fled with the proceeds of their confidence trick.
Pretending to be the representatives in Geneva of Stockton Trust and using the company's headed notepaper, they persuaded small investors from Switzerland, France, Britain, Germany and Holland to part with their money, promising them a profit of over 20 per cent within two years.
To persuade these clients to invest more, the two accused paid back the investment along with the promised dividend. The minimum investment was SFr100,000.
At the request of the investigating magistrate, Marc Tappolet, accounts containing over SFr1 million at a branch of the HSBC bank in Jersey have been frozen.
The judge has asked for the money be returned to Switzerland along with a number of bank documents which suggest that a considerable amount of money was transferred from these accounts to a branch of Barclays Bank in the Bahamas.
The crimes were committed between 1997 and July 1999, when the two men were last seen in Geneva. Their current whereabouts is unknown.
Two of the investors, an insurance agent and a university professor from canton Vaud, have themselves been charged with fraud, having invested the money of acquaintances. Tappolet considers their role to have been more than mere go-betweens.
Their lawyers deny the accusations. They say the professor has been forced to sell his house and declare himself bankrupt, while the insurer has been badly affected by the ordeal. He persuaded his friends to invest with the pair after he received a substantial dividend on his initial investment.
by Roy Probert
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