The murky world of Beaufort Securities

The Times today reports further details of the picture emerging of the Beaufort Securities scandal.

As they report, as City scandals go, the collapse of Beaufort Securities was a humdinger. Having been shut down by the financial conduct authority in March 2018, it was reported just hours later the London-based stockbroker was under criminal indictment in the United States over allegations of money laundering and securities fraud.

The FBI is now five months into their investigation and the American prosecutors have secured their first guilty plea from one of six people charged in relation to the Beaufort scandal, as well as extraditing a British financier from Hungary to New York to face trial.

Among the current three UK-based defendants (more will surely follow) is Panayiotis “Peter” Kyriacou, 27, who was employed as an investment manager at Beaufort’s London office in the City, Aristos Aristodemou, 49, a property developer and the uncle of Mr Kyriacou, and Matthew Green, 50, the son of Richard Green, a Mayfair art dealer. A fourth Briton, Linda Bullock, 57, has been charged and is said to live in the Caribbean.

The details of this case seem extraordinary, including the claim that a £6.7 million Picasso painting, Personnages, Painted 11 April 1965, was offered as a potential vehicle to launder money, after an FBI-led undercover sting operation. This may seem astonishing but IYE Global have spoken to investors who have been offered fine art, precious metals, even the fabled ‘table-top emerald’ as part of an inducement to invest, each and every one a scam.

According to the American indictment, an FBI undercover agent met Mr Kyriacou and Mr Aristodemou in London last December. Mr Aristodemou is alleged to have told the agent that a painting could be purchased from Mr Green “using the proceeds of stock manipulation deals and then later sell the painting to ‘clean the money”.

“Aristodemou further explained that the art business was ‘the only market that is unregulated’, and that art was a profitable investment because of ‘money laundering’ ”, according to the indictment. The Times was unable to contact Mr Aristodemou for comment.

At a separate meeting in February involving the agent, Mr Green allegedly told the agent “in part, that it was important for him to make more than a 5 per cent profit on the transaction so that he would not be asked why he was ‘in the money laundering business’ ”.

Mr Green was a director of Mayfair Fine Art, named in the US indictment, which went bust in March when administrators were appointed. Mr Green resigned as a director of Mayfair Fine Art in February, records show.

A spokesman for the US Department of Justice declined to comment on whether requests had been made to UK authorities to arrest or extradite any of the UK-based defendants or to freeze assets or enforce travel bans.

In the meantime, as we reported in a recent blog, customers of Beaufort Securities are thankfully closer to getting their money out of the firm. 

Cases such as this highlight the vital importance of having proper due diligence undertaken before an investment is made. Extreme care is required to ensure the people and investments you are being offered are genuine. IYE Global offer a due diligence service that not only checks the validity of the investment but accesses intelligence and watch reports on those involved. If you’d like to ensure the investment you’re considering is genuine, please call us on: +44 (0)20 8914 7923 or use our contact form on the IYE Global website.