Today the Superior Number of the Royal Court sentenced former financial adviser Christopher Paul Byrne, 50, to 7 years prison, plus 12 years disqualification from being concerned directly or indirectly in the management of a company.
The former managing director of Lumiere Wealth Limited was found guilty on 13th September following a four and a half week trial in which twenty eight witnesses gave evidence. Though he pleaded guilty to Carrying on Unauthorised Financial Services Business and Providing False Information to the Jersey Financial Services Commission, Jurat’s Christensen and Blampied found Byrne guilty of 14 counts of fraudulently inducing thirteen of his clients to invest in the Guernsey based Providence Fund.
Byrne’s activities first came to light when officers of the Jersey Financial Services Commission commenced an on-site visit to the Castle Quay offices of Lumiere Wealth in June 2016. The Joint Financial Crime Unit commenced an investigation three months later when an elderly client of Byrne’s made a complaint about a fraudulent million pound loan made to Byrne.
The JFSC and JFCU worked in tandem as a range of criminal and regulatory offences came to light. Over the following twelve months JFCU officers spoke to a large number of Lumiere Wealth clients thirteen of which were prepared to give evidence at trial. In the early stages of the investigation all officers in JFCU office and personal from other Police departments were working on the case.
In all 148 statements were recorded from 73 witnesses and 535 exhibits, containing tens of thousands of physical documents and millions of computer files were produced. The listening of some twenty one thousand telephone calls recorded by the Lumiere Office telephone system and reading of in excess of thirty two thousand SMS and chat message provided some crucial evidence referred to during the trial.
Above all the investigation highlighted the vulnerability of clients placing high degrees of trust in their financial adviser. Some of Byrne’s victims had known him for many years and come to trust him implicitly. Believing him to be giving impartial advice and having their best interests at heart they went on to loose £2.7m worth of their savings. In many cases the financial loss will have a lasting effect on their lives.
The Police encourage all persons looking to invest funds on the advice of a
financial advisor to follow the guidance issued by the Jersey Financial Services Commission available of their website or at their Castle Street office.
The Police and JFSC are grateful to those victims who were willing to assist in the prosecution of Mr Byrne and they hope that his conviction will encourage members of the public to ask questions of their financial advisor about the investments being advised on and to read carefully any documentation supplied to them before investing.
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