Disgraced financial adviser jailed for seven years
A DISGRACED financial adviser has been jailed for seven years for charges related to selling fraudulent investments.
Christopher Paul Byrne was initially due to be sentenced earlier this month but the hearing was abruptly adjourned when the 50-year-old’s advocate, Olaf Blakeley, said his client was helping Guernsey authorities with their investigations into a company that was selling the same fraudulent fund.
The former managing director of Lumiere Wealth was found guilty of a raft of fraud offences in September after a four-and-half week trial in the Royal Court.
The charges related to selling a fund – Providence – which was later found to be a global Ponzi scheme.
Byrne’s defence was that he did not know the fund was fraudulent and was advising his clients – who lost almost £3 million when the investment scam eventually collapsed – in good faith.
But the court found that he was guilty of giving fraudulent investment advice about the risk level of the fund, withholding from clients that he had a lucrative pay deal in place with the fund, forging a loan document for £1 million from a partially sighted elderly widow and misleading the Island’s financial regulator.
During Friday's hearing, Crown Advocate Simon Thomas argued that Bryne’s interviews with the Guernsey police had been only of ‘minor importance’ and, in them, he had maintained many of the positions that he had in the trial – that he was duped by the fraud’s global mastermind Antonio Buzaneli and had been acting only to make his client’s money.
However, Advocate Blakeley said the value of the information his client gave to Guernsey authorities could not truly be determined yet as he is not in control of the speed at which they proceed in their work, and he should be given ‘substantial’ credit of 30 per cent for his co-operation.
In the end, Jurats Nicolle, Blampied, Sparrow, Ronge and Christensen decided the assistance did not justify a percentage discount on this basis.
Byrne will be disqualified from working in finance for 12 years.