Gibraltar lawyers jailed over £40m client money scam

Three brothers who ran one of Gibraltar’s largest law firms were jailed last week for fraud, four years after their firm, Marrache & Co, was put into liquidation.

Benjamin, Isaac and Solomon Marrache were found guilty of fraud last week after a trial which was adjourned 47 times and saw the jury discharged last year.

Former Marrache & Co employee Leanne Turnbull was found not guilty.

The brothers were arrested in 2010 on false accounting charges (10 May 2010) with the firm put into liquidation shortly afterwards. The fraud trial began in October 2013, after a number of preliminary skirmishes, in Gibraltar’s Supreme Court and finally ended on Friday (4 July) when the Marraches were sentenced.

The firm’s former managing partner Benjamin and finance director Solomon Marrache were both found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud millions of pounds in client money, while Isaac Marrache was found guilty of one count of conspiracy. The judge, Mr Justice Grigson, said there was not enough evidence to convict Isaac Marrache on the second count of fraud relating to properties that were mortgaged without the owners’ consents.

In a statement Marrache & Co joint liquidator Adrian Hyde of Chantrey Vellacott said clients had been defrauded of around £40m.

“The sentencing sends out a very strong message that any dishonest conduct which affects Gibraltar’s financial community and reputation will not be tolerated. The conviction is a testament to the development of Gibraltar into a sophisticated financial business centre with the legal and regulatory infrastructure which that requires,” Hyde said.

He added that the joint liquidators from Chantrey Vellacott and PricewaterhouseCoopers would continue to try and recoup the firm’s assets.

The lengthy trial saw a number of dramatic events with the brothers exchanging barbs in the witness box. Last November Grigson J discharged the jury, announcing he would continue to hear the case alone.

He later rejected an application by Benjamin Marrache’s counsel, 6KBW College Hill’s Dorian Lovell-Pank QC, to recuse himself from the case. 

Meanwhile Turnbull’s legal team was rejigged after an illness caused lead counsel David Evans QC, of 33 Chancery Lane, to step down. Farringdon Chambers’ head Ann Cotcher QC took Evans’ place.

The legal line-up:

For the prosecution

9-12 Bell Yard’s John McGuinness QC, instructed by senior Crown Counsel Damian Conroy and Crown counsel Ishbel Armstrong

For Benjamin Marrache

6KBW College Hill’s Dorian Lovell-Pank QC and Church Court Chambers’ Lesley Manley, instructed by Charles Gomez & Co

For Isaac Marrache

25 Bedford Row’s John Cooper QC and Osman Osman, instructed by Massias & Partners’ Isaac Massias

For Solomon Marrache

Lexicon Legal’s Chris Finch, instructed by Bark & Co senior solicitor Peter Finbow

For Leanne Turnbull

Farringdon Chambers’ Ann Cotcher QC and Central Chambers’ Keith Hartley-Jones