'Crook of the century' jailed in France

26th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

VERSAILLES, France, July 26, 2007 (AFP) - A Franco-Israeli businessman nicknamed the "crook of the century" was sentenced Thursday to five years in jail and fined half a million dollars for conning some 400 French soldiers out of their life-savings.

VERSAILLES, France, July 26, 2007 (AFP) - A Franco-Israeli businessman nicknamed the "crook of the century" was sentenced Thursday to five years in jail and fined half a million dollars for conning some 400 French soldiers out of their life-savings.

Claude Lipsky, 76, was found guilty of persuading the soldiers, most of them based in French military bases in Senegal and Djibouti, to invest in a bogus financial scheme between 1986 and 1999.

Promising high returns thanks to miracle software he said could analyse long-term stock market trends, he amassed the equivalent of 30 million euros (40 million dollars), which vanished into thin air.

Lipsky -- who earned his media nickname for a previous mass embezzlement conviction in the 1970s -- admitted to the scam half way through the two-month trial in Versailles, west of Paris.

In poor health, he was not present to hear the court hand down the five-year sentence and 375,000-euro (515,000-dollar) fine.

Two senior French military officers, Lieutenant Colonel Claude Derusco and General Pierre Haubois, were respectively given three-year and 30-month sentences and fined 150,000 euros, and warrants were issued for their arrest.

Both were found guilty of convincing their subordinates to invest in the scheme, drawing a commission each time.

A Geneva bank, Sofipriv, was fined 700,000 euros for fraud and aggravated money-laundering for providing Lipsky with a bank account.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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