The case of ex-finance boss who lost £2.8m of his clients’ money in a fraudulent fund has taken a surprising turn of events as his sentencing was abruptly adjourned after it emerged at the 11th hour that he is helping Guernsey authorities with an investigation.
Christopher Paul Byrne (50), the former managing director of Lumiere Wealth, has been in La Moye prison since 13 September after he was found guilty of fraud-related charges which saw local investors lose almost £3m to an international Ponzi scheme.
He was due to be sentenced in the Royal Court, Jersey, for misleading his elderly, vulnerable, and financially inexperienced clients to invest large percentages of their wealth in a high-risk and ultimately fraudulent fund.
But the Royal Court case had to be adjourned this afternoon pending further investigation after Mr Byrne’s lawyer, Advocate Olaf Blakeley, revealed that the former financier had been helping Guernsey Police with their investigation of Providence Wealth – a company later exposed as a Ponzi scheme, local media outlet Bailiwick Express reported.
Commissioner John Saunders apologised to the investors in the Royal Court for the unexpected delay in sentencing but said the court had no choice given the revelations.
The court’s public gallery was filled with many of Byrne’s wronged investors for the sentencing.
The disgruntled investors listened to the Commissioner’s explanation for the delay with obvious frustration, according to the Jersey Evening Post.
Advocate Blakeley produced an email from a Guernsey Police officer confirming that Mr Byrne had assisted in their investigation saying that he had been “very forthcoming” and “some of the information has already proved useful.”
He argued that this meant his client could be eligible for a substantially reduced sentence, as opposed to the nine years that the prosecution had moved for.
Byrne was convicted of 16 counts of financial misconduct after a lengthy four-and-a-half-week trial which heard testimony from many of his former clients including an elderly French couple, a pensioner and a retired teacher, as reported by International Investment.