Broth­ers’ £34m fraud rocks Gi­bral­tar

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

THE LONG­EST crim­i­nal trial in Gi­bral­tar’s his­tory has cul­mi­nated in the jail­ing of three Jewish broth­ers who com­mit­ted a multi-mil­lion pound fraud.

Af­ter years of fi­nan­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion into their con­duct, and months of ev­i­dence and cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, Ben­jamin, Solomon and Isaac Mar­rache are now be­hind bars, guilty of what a judge said was overwhelming dis­hon­esty.

The col­lapse of the Mar­raches’ law firm with debts of more than £34 mil­lion had shaken the tiny Bri­tish ter­ri­tory, and its Jewish com­mu­nity, where the broth­ers were once highly re­garded.

One ex­pert who closely fol­lowed the trial and had knowl­edge of the broth­ers’ ac­tiv­i­ties said the case had been “to­tally un­prece­dented.

“It’s enor­mous. They were the big mach­ers. Par­tic­u­larly Ben­jamin, be­cause he lived lo­cally. Isaac had moved to Lon­don with his fam­ily and used to fly there and back. He ran the Lon­don of­fice and was very prom­i­nent in north-west Lon­don cir­cles,” he said.

Gi­bral­tar’s 800-strong Jewish com­mu­nity was torn be­tween of­fer­ing the fam­ily pri­vate sup­port, and the pub­lic em­bar­rass­ment of the trial. As the truth emerged, back­ing fell away. The in­sider said: “It was all smoke and mir­rors — a com­plete Ponzi scheme. They had been rob­bing Peter to pay Paul.”

The broth­ers were first ar­rested in 2010 fol­low­ing the col­lapse of their Mar­rache and Co firm. Their globe-trot­ting life­styles and ca­reers rep­re­sent­ing the rich and fa­mous — in­clud­ing a large num­ber of Rus­sian Jewish oli­garchs — came to an im­me­di­ate end, re­placed with time spent on re­mand in Gi­bral­tar’s me­di­ae­val Moor­ish Cas­tle.

It took years to bring the case to court as prose­cu­tors sifted through thou­sands of fi­nan­cial documents. The broth­ers launched nu­mer­ous at­tempts to have the charges dis­missed.

When the trial fi­nally got un­der way last year, the Supreme Court heard ev­i­dence from dozens of wit­nesses, in­clud­ing Gi­bral­tar’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral. The hear­ing lasted for more than 10 months and in­cluded 47 ad­journ­ments.

Ben­jamin and Solomon were found guilty of two counts of con­spir­acy to de­fraud, and Isaac of one charge.

Vic­tims in­cluded young in­vestors, first-time home buy­ers, an Ir­ish mul­ti­mil­lion­aire, a re­tired teacher and a suc­cess­ful Czech busi­ness­man. Trial judge Sir Ge­of­frey Grig­son said the broth­ers had­showna“com­pletelackof re­morse” and “an un­scrupu­lous de­sire to avoid ac­cept­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity”.

Ben­jamin was sen­tenced to 11 years. Solomon and Isaac — who had been liv­ing in Hamp­stead Gar­den Sub­urb be­fore his ar­rest — were both given seven-year terms. Their co-de­fen­dant and for­mer em­ployee, Leanne Turn­bull, was cleared of all charges.

Ben­jamin, Solomon and Isaac Mar­rache

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Broth­ers be­hind bars (

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