Lawyers for former Lumiere Wealth boss Chris Byrne have told a Jersey court the evidence against him should not be accepted “at first blush”.
While Byrne’s lawyer advocate Olaf Blakeley admitted his client had made “foolish decisions”, these did not amount to fraud, The Bailiwick Express reported.
Byrne stands accused of flogging the high-risk Providence fund to retired and vulnerable investors.
Blakeley told the court his client had acted honestly and wanted to see his clients prosper.
He cited his client’s “unblemished” career, and said it would have been “absurd” for Byrne to jeopardise this.
Prosecutors had previously claimed Byrne knew the Providence fund was high-risk and said he knowingly hid facts from investors, who he targeted precisely because they were less likely to ask the right questions.
Providence was supposed to make money by buying corporate debts in Brazil and chasing down debtors and recovering assets.
The fund was also a shareholder in Lumiere and was paying Byrne commissions.
Providence and Lumiere have both been closed down.
Providence boss pleads guilty
Byrne is not the only person to stand trial over the fund.
The chief executive of Providence Companies Group admitted to orchestrating a $150m (£117.6m, €131.7m) scam that duped mostly elderly and vulnerable people across the world.
Antonio Buzaneli entered a guilty plea for one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud to a court in the US in April 2018.
Providence had opened offices and affiliates around the world; including in London, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Singapore, Vancouver and Panama.
The 18 charges against Byrne, relating to losing £2.73m ($3.5m, €3.1m) of client money, are being considered by a panel of jurors.