A partially blind 79-year-old has told a Jersey court “trusted” financial adviser tricked her into signing a blank piece of paper which gave him a personal loan of £1m.
She told the court that the disgraced financier, 50-year-old Chris Byrne, was someone she had viewed as a “trusted friend”.
The former financier stands accused of losing £2.7m of money from clients by knowingly getting them to invest in a high-risk company. He is facing 18 charges, all of which he denies.
The woman, who suffers from macular degeneration – a condition that causes severe, irreversible vision loss – claims Byrne had her sign an unsecured personal loan agreement to him for £1m when she believed she was authorising the money to be transferred into a bond that would provide her with better interest.
Describing the meeting at her home the woman, who requires a magnifying glass to read, said: “We talked about the day. We had a glass of wine and suddenly he got up and said: ‘I’m very late. Look at the time. I have to meet my wife and children. I want some signatures,” local newspaper Jersey Evening Post reported.
“He was a trusted friend. It was stupid of me to sign a blank piece of paper. Very stupid.”
Advocate Thomas asked the woman what had happened to the £1 million. “It has been stolen,” she replied. “Where it has gone to I have no idea,” the Jersey Evening Post wrote.
The woman also told the court how she and her now deceased husband invested £570,000 and £30,000 respectively into a bond which Byrne had told them was a good investment.
She said she did not know what the fund was making or investing in but was under the impression that it was a low-risk investment. The money was invested into a high-risk fund called Providence with the core business of debt factoring in Brazil.
The pensioner is one of 12 “ordinary” and “vulnerable” Islanders to whom Christopher Paul Byrne is alleged to have given false and misleading statements.