A British foreign exchange company boss who used investors’ cash to fund his luxury lifestyle was sentenced in his absence to 14 years in jail on Friday over a 70 million pound ($88 million) Ponzi scheme.
Anthony Constantinou was found guilty last month of one count of fraud by false representation, two counts of fraudulent trading and four counts of transferring criminal property.
The 41-year-old skipped bail in April and the trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court continued in his absence.
He was arrested at the Bulgarian-Turkish border with a false Spanish passport a week after he fled Britain but was released by the police, prosecutor David Durose said on Friday.
Constantinou’s current whereabouts are unknown and the City of London Police, which led the investigation, has appealed for information to help locate him.
“Officers believe he is now either in Turkey or Dubai, but he also has family connections to Greece and Cyprus,” Detective Inspector Nichola Meghji said in a statement.
Judge Gregory Perrins sentenced Constantinou to 14 years in his absence on Friday, saying his forex business was “a typical Ponzi fraud”. Constantinou’s lawyer declined to comment after the sentencing.
Constantinou ran Capital World Markets (CWM), which offered a 5% monthly return on investments. Prosecutors told the court investors were lured by CWM’s high-end City of London offices and high-profile sports sponsorship deals, including with Premier League soccer club Chelsea.
But the fraud unravelled in March 2015 when CWM was raided by police, prosecutors told Constantinou’s trial.
Investigators discovered he had spent CWM’s money renting a six-bedroom mansion and paying for private flights and lavish parties, including 2.5 million pounds on his wedding on the Greek island of Santorini.
Durose said on Friday that nearly 70 million pounds was paid to CWM and linked companies by over 300 victims between 2013 and 2015.
As a child in the 1980s, Anthony Constantinou lost his father, Aristos, a fashion tycoon, who was shot dead in an unsolved murder on a London street called Billionaires’ Row.
Three decades later, Constantinou junior seemed to have recovered from the tragedy and ran a fast-growing trading company on the 21st floor of a new skyscraper in the heart of the city.
In September 2014, he married his wife in a 2.5 million pounds ($3.1 million) ceremony on the Greek island of Santorini, flying guests over in a private jet. He met Princess Anne when his company sponsored a boat show in London in 2015 and hosted sports stars in a company box at Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club.
The extravagance was apparently due to the money he inherited from his late father, which he used to build a foreign exchange trading company, Capital World Markets. It lent potential customers an air of legitimacy that vanished instantly after police raided Constantinou’s office in Salesforce Tower for a lead in 2015.
The charts on his traders’ computers, as were his claims of wealth, were fiction. The fuel for his lavish lifestyle had been stolen from small investors who had poured up to £ 70 million into what actually resembled a Ponzi scheme. Many were ordinary people who ended up losing their life savings.
Source: India Times