The fraud trial 50-year-old Chris Byrne, who ran Lumiere Wealth Limited, has started in Jersey. The former financier stands accused of losing £2.7m of money from clients by knowingly getting them to invest in a high-risk company.
In a trial that is expected to last six weeks, Chris Byrne is facing 18 charges, all of which he denies, reports local newspaper Bailiwick Express.
It’s also claimed he ran a finance business when he wasn’t registered, and that he lied to the Jersey Financial Services Commission.
The prosecutor, advocate Simon Thomas, told the Royal Court about each of the investors. They ranged from a woman in her late 70s with failing eyesight and her husband who invested £600,000, to a retired nurse who invested £200,000, and couple of retired teachers who ‘cashed in’ their son’s inheritance and invested £165,000.
None, it was said, were experienced investors. Many were previous clients, friends, or friends of friends. All were said to have trusted him.
The prosecution claims he persuaded a number of clients to invest in a Brazilian company called Providence, that offered up to 28% from a Brazilian factoring operation, where company debt was purchased at reduced prices, reported the Bailiwick Express.
According to the prosecution, Byrne failed to tell investors that it was high risk and only suitable for experienced investors. Bryne also did not reveal he was getting a commission for pushing investments in Providence.
Many Lumiere investors were elderly or vulnerable, only had a small amount of money to invest and were allegedly financial cautious.
Lumiere Wealth, which was based at Castle Quay but has now been closed down, marketed investments in Providence to Jersey-based investors.