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Former financier sentenced to seven years in jail

Former financier sentenced to seven years in jail

Friday 30 November 2018

Former financier sentenced to seven years in jail


An ex-finance boss will spend seven years behind bars after misleading his vulnerable, elderly and financially naïve clients to losing £2.7million of their wealth in a fraudulent fund.

Christopher Paul Byrne (50), a former financial advisor and CEO of Lumiere Wealth, was sentenced in the Royal Court this morning after being convicted of 16 counts of financial misconduct.

Those crimes involved misleading his clients - including a an elderly French couple, a pensioner and a retired teacher - practicing as an advisor when he wasn't authorised and providing false information to the JFSC.

The Court also ruled that Byrne should be disqualified from managing a company for a period of 12 years.

The former financier appeared in the Royal Court before Commissioner Sir John Saunders for sentencing this morning after his case was unexpectedly adjourned when Defence Advocate Olaf Blakeley derailed proceedings with the shock revelation that Byrne could be eligible for a substantially reduced sentence due to the assistance he provided Guernsey Police in their investigation of the ultimately fraudulent Providence fund.

Royal court

Pictured: Byrne appeared to be sentenced in the Royal Court before Commissioner Sir John Saunders, who sat with five Jurats.

The Court heard arguments from both the prosecution and defence regarding Byrne’s assistance with the Police investigation and whether he deserved any credit for his cooperation. 

Crown Advocate Simon Thomas quoted from the witness statements of two Guernsey Police officers involved in the investigation who said that Byrne provided “background information” which was “useful but not revelatory”. The Crown Advocate said that this information had “only minimal impact on the… investigation”.

In light of this, the Crown Advocate said that the prosecution would be sticking to their recommendation that Byrne is sentenced to nine years in jail.

Video: Christopher Paul Byrne arriving at the Royal Court earlier this month for his original sentencing date.

In contrast, Defence Advocate Blakeley said that “everything Mr Byrne has done to assist has been dumbed down by the prosecution". He argued that to deprive his client of this credit in sentencing would be “unjust, unfair and improper".

His sentence was considered by Jurats Blampied, Christensen, Nicolle, Ronge and Sparrow, sitting in the 'Superior Number' - a panel who only assembly to hear the most serious of cases where sentences of more than four years can be imposed.

Having retired to consider the sentence, the Jurats did not consider that Byrne was eligible for a discount due to his cooperation with Guernsey Police, but did take into consideration that Byrne was of "good character" prior to his offending.

thomas_vs_blakeley_byrne_case.jpg

Pictured: The prosecution and defence lawyers argued over the value of Byrne having assisted in Guernsey Police's investigation.

In the end, Byrne was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment.

Handing down his sentence, Royal Court Commissioner Sir John Saunders said: "…the Jurats take the view that sentences for this type of offence have to include an element of deterrence. They are satisfied that the motive for them was financial gain.

"People in Mr. Byrne’s position are intelligent and need to understand that if they take the risk of committing this sort of serious breach of trust for financial gain, the penalty will be severe."

byrnesentencing.jpg

Pictured: The formerly well-respected financier will spend seven years behind bars for his crimes.

The Commissioner also spoke of the impact Byrne's offending had on the ten investors in this case: "The worry will always be there and that is something they should not have to cope with. It is clear that many have been affected a great deal by Mr Byrne’s offending: It is not just financially that victims have been affected. Many have lost confidence in themselves and are reluctant to trust others." 

Jersey Police issued a statement following the former finance CEO's sentencing. It reads: "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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