A currency trader has vanished along with £130 million in investors’ cash in an alleged fraud that could be one of the biggest in recent British history, The Telegraph said on December 22.
Joe Lewis, 59, is being investigated by police over almost $200 million which he claimed was in clients’ accounts but now no longer exists. It is rumored that professional footballers and golfers have lost money in his investment scheme, the report said.
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In an email sent to clients a fortnight ago, Mr Lewis admitted that his company, JL Trading, had stopped operating in 2009 after suffering heavy losses on disastrous foreign exchange deals.
He confessed in the email that he had continued taking people’s money for the next five years in an attempt to turn his fortunes around, but that all those attempts had failed, The Telegraph said.
Whatever the truth, the reality for investors – many of them British – is that they have each lost a small fortune. Police have taken statements from a number of victims and begun an investigation into Lewis, the report said.
A civil action to freeze his accounts and seize any assets has also been started. The businessman, who traded from a smart residential address in Istanbul with views over the Bosporus, is understood to have left Turkey some weeks ago. His adult son said he had no idea where his father was. One report suggested he had briefly visited relations near Hull and may now be in the Far East, according to The Telegraph.
Mr Lewis, a father of two, started his company about a decade ago, employing at its peak about 30 staff over two stories of the residential block. He lived in a penthouse apartment with his Turkish wife.
Investors had been attracted through word of mouth with the promise of monthly returns on his currency trades of between one and three per cent. They were also enticed through golf days in exotic locations such as Thailand, the Telegraph said.
Since about 2011, only investors with a minimum of $25, 000 (£16, 000) could join his investment “club”. One client had invested about £500, 000 in the past 12 months and is unlikely to get his money back; another is said to have put in £1.2 million.
Investors are not sure what to believe.
Lewis was unavailable for comment last week. He failed to answer emails and phone calls, and at his Istanbul apartment a doorman said he had not been seen for a few weeks, according to the report.
The currency trader’s son James said: “He [Joe Lewis] didn’t live extravagantly. I don’t know where the money’s gone. I am happy to share information with the legal entities.
“Everything he had is ruined. There are no assets at all that I am aware of.”