Fugitive British forex boss sentenced in absence for $88mln fraud

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) – 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.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; editing by Michael Holden)