A widow in her late 70s has testified against former Lumiere Wealth director claiming she lost £600,000 because her money was invested in a high-risk venture against her knowledge.
She told the court in Jersey that the disgraced financier, 50-year-old Chris Byrne, tried to trick her into giving him £1m by making her sign an unsecured personal loan agreement, according to local newspaper Bailiwick Express.
Bryne, who disputes all allegations, stands accused of losing £2.7m of money from clients by knowingly getting them to invest in a high-risk company.
She told the court she “trusted him”, and the prosecution said that he was even invited to her dinner parties.
According to the prosecution, without telling her all the facts, Byrne invested her money in a high-risk company, Providence, which dealt in factoring in Brazil. This involves buying up companies’ debts for less than they are worth, and making a profit by chasing up the money owed.
“He betrayed my trust,” she said, later stating that she made it clear she wanted “no risk, not low risk”, let alone high risk.
It is claimed he also failed to tell her that Providence was a major shareholder in Lumiere, and that he was getting commission for promoting Providence, the Bailiwick Express reports.
The widow added that s he had never seen a risk questionnaire – a document which is used to match clients with suitable products. However, under cross-examination, defence advocate Olaf Blakeley produced two assessment documents that had been signed by her. The widow later admitted it was possible Bryne had gone through them with her.
More than 30 other witnesses are expected to give evidence during the trial, which could run for up to six weeks, as International Investment reported.
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