Founding partners Benjamin and Solomon Marrache were arrested on Tuesday and charged with falsely accounting €1.8m (£1.58m) of client money. They spent the night in police cells before appearing in Gibraltar Magistrates Court on Wednesday, when they were granted bail at £300,000 each.
The court also required the brothers to pledge £150,000 each, as a recognisance, to hand in their travel documents and report to police twice a week. The case has been adjourned until April.
Steven Daultrey, a partner in Marrache & Co’s London office, which is linked to Gibraltar only through the brand, said he felt “anger, rage and incandescence at certain names working in the firm’s Gibraltar office”.
“I have an office here with people whose livelihoods I have to consider,” he said. “I’m utterly speechless. The Gibraltar firm has nothing to do with the London office; [Benjamin and Solomon Marrache] aren’t signatories here. We do English-law work only.
“I’m concerned for the London office clients too, but at the moment those clients have been nothing but 1,000 per cent supportive. We haven’t had one client complain, they’re saying they’ll do anything to help. They receive a good level of advice here but, in terms of reputation, the situation is awful.”
The Marrache brothers are alleged to have falsified documents to hide €1.8m of missing money belonging to shipping company Portino Comercio Internacional.
Gibraltar’s FSC cancelled nine licenses held by Marrache & Co, which also has offices in London, Spain, Lisbon, Prague and Luxembourg.
According to a statement issued by the FSC the decision to cancel the brothers’ licenses was taken “following an investigation into the affairs of the licensed entities and persons which in the opinion of the Commission have disclosed serious and persistent breaches of Gibraltar’s financial services legislation”.
The Lawyer was unable to reach anyone at Marrach & Co’s Gibraltar office, which is understood to be under police guard, but Benjamin Marrache was quoted in the Gibraltar press as saying: “We intend to appeal the decision of the FSC. If there are any issues involving any of these companies these will be resolved.”
The firm’s Spain, Lisbon, Prague and Luxembourg offices are understood to be linked to the firm by name only.
Frederick White, managing director of Grant Thornton, has been appointed by the FSC as authorised administrator for the firm, in which capacity he will help clients of the Gibraltar office transfer their business to other licensed entities.