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23 October 2012, 06:00
Two men have been sentenced to a total 22 years' imprisonment for their parts in a multi-million pound fraud investigation.
Over the past two months George Katcharian, 60, and Cemal Esmene, 56, have stood trial at Norwich Crown Court after a Norfolk businessman and a church lost millions of pounds in investments.
On Friday, 18th October both men were found guilty by a jury.
Danish national Katcharian was convicted of two charges of conspiracy to defraud and Esmene, a Turkish Cypriot national, was convicted of one charge of conspiracy to defraud and one charge of conspiracy to launder criminal property.
Today, Monday 22 October, both men were each sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment.
It follows the successful conviction of three other men in June this year relating to the same matter.
Arthur Ford-Batey, 63 and from Carlisle, 66-year-old Alan Hunt from Poole and Ian Yorkshire, 62 and from Brighton were convicted of fraud charges and sentenced to a total of 26 years' imprisonment.
Norfolk Police launched an investigation following a complaint from successful local businessman Graham Dacre.
In March 2008 he was introduced to Alan Hunt and others, who claimed to be based in England, Germany and Switzerland. They persuaded him to invest â‚¬15 million into a programme which they claimed would yield returns on his funds. He was reassured that his funds would remain under his control at all times. Mr Dacre's investment never materialised and he has not been able to recover his money.
As police investigated this matter, a further complaint was received by the Serious Fraud Office from the German-based New Apostolic Church in Dortmund. This was joined up with Norfolk's investigation. In late 2007 representatives of the church were introduced to Alan Hunt and another, who outlined to them an investment programme.
Church representatives signed an agreement to invest â‚¬10million. The church then arranged the transfer of this money to an account held in the UK, in the name of Ian Yorkshire. They believed that after a short period, the full amount of their investment would be moved to an account held in their name and under their control which was to be opened in Switzerland where it would remain for the duration of the agreement. Although an account in Switzerland was opened, the church's funds never arrived and all attempts by them to retrieve the funds failed.
Investigating officer Det Con Chris Gay, from the Economic Crime Unit, said: "I'm very happy with the sentences imposed, which reflects the seriousness of these crimes.
"The amounts involved, victims from overseas, and the extensive use of bank accounts abroad to receive and dissipate funds, contributed to this being one of the largest and most complex fraud investigations ever conducted by the Economic Crime Unit.
"We are committed to ensuring that serious cases such as this are fully investigated and will continue to do so."