Fraudulent stock brokerage owner gets 11 years in jail

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The owner, who took EUR 90 million in clients' savings, was found guilty of embezzlement and document fraud.

28 March 2008

MADRID - The owner of a stock brokerage that went belly up in 2001 taking with it almost EUR 90 million in clients' savings was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Thursday after being found guilty of embezzlement and document fraud.

Antonio Camacho, the once flamboyant owner of the now defunct Gescartera brokerage, was immediately taken into custody after being informed of the sentence amid concern that he may attempt to flee the country while the case goes to appeal.

Four of his associates who had been freed on bail in the wake of the scandal were also taken into custody yesterday. Overall, eight Gescartera managers, advisors and associated bankers were sentenced to a combined total of 52 years in prison.

In presenting her verdict, High Court Judge Carmen Paloma González said that the managers of Gescartera "collaborated to maintain an appearance of normalcy... a mere façade designed to hide the premeditated, systematic and persistent pilfering of money and stocks invested by clients."

She ruled that savings banks La Caixa and Caja Madrid, which directed clients to Gescartera's services, hold civil responsibility for the loss of funds and must reimburse clients the EUR 87.99 million they lost when Gescartera collapsed in 2001 plus interest accrued since then.

[Copyright El Pais 2008]

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