The two UK bosses of the collapsed Imperial Consolidated offshore finance group hid $1m (pounds 606,000) of seized assets from the US financial regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to a High Court judgment.
Mr Justice Patten's ruling describes Lincoln Fraser and Jared Brook as "greedy and unscrupulous". The IC group collapsed in 2001 owing investors pounds 200m.
David Marchant of the Miami-based Offshore Alert newsletter, which is making the judgment available online this weekend, said yesterday: "This judgment is significant because it shows that IC was a criminal enterprise from the beginning.
"The crude nature of the scheme, as outlined by the judge, should be a source of shame to regulatory agencies which are supposed to protect the public against this type of activity, such as the Financial Services Authority and the Department of Trade and Industry."
The Law Society had intervened against IC's solicitor, Michael Harvey, in 2001 - which he claimed was a breach of his human rights. Dismissing his appeal, Justice Patten challenges Mr Harvey's integrity.
The judgment reveals a series of schemes by Mr Fraser and Mr Brook of varying degrees of dishonesty. One involves an IC subsidiary, City UK, set up as an asset recovery service against investment fraud. As Justice Patten notes, City UK "had quite a high success rate. …