A High Court judge has criticised as ‘expensive, elaborate and unmeritorious’ a claim alleging multi-million-pound fraud in a case in which the credibility of witnesses was also called into question.
Mr Justice Knowles said the trial in Simetra Global Assets Limited and another v Ikon Finance Limited and others presented a ‘very confused and incomplete picture’ with ‘wholly unconvincing’ evidence.
The dispute was brought by two investment funds against trading outfit Ikon Finance. It centred on ‘demo’ account balances in relation to foreign exchange trading activities on platforms made available by Ikon. Demo accounts, offered by trading platforms, are funded with fake money to help prospective customers experiment before deciding whether to set up a real account.
Simetra and Richcroft, both based in the British Virgin Islands, claimed they understood that the demonstrations represented real money and that Ikon was liable for dishonest assistance in breaches of duty and trust, deceit and unlawful means conspiracy. They originally claimed over $370m (£283m) in damages but this subsequently reduced to $202m.
In judgment, Knowles dismissed the claims and said the trial ‘has appeared to me little more than an elaborate and expensive, unmeritorious and now unsuccessful’ attempt to throw [the claimants’] responsibility onto the shoulders of the defendants. Knowles described evidence from one of the directors, named as Mr Litinas, as ‘wholly unconvincing throughout’. Another witness, named as Ms Kitromilidou, who was described as holding ‘an administrative role’ with the claimants, gave ‘opportunistic evidence’, Knowles said.
Brian Perrott, litigation partner at international firm HFW, which represented Ikon, said: ‘In my entire career as a litigator, I don’t think I have ever read such a definitive judgment.’
A spokesperson for Ikon said: ’We have always maintained the claims brought against the company were without merit and groundless and we are pleased that this view has been reflected by the High Court judgment.'
International firm DLA Piper, representing Simetra, confirmed it intends to appeal.
HFW acted for several Ikon Group entities. The firm instructed Paul McGrath QC and James Sheehan of Essex Court Chambers. Simetra and Richcroft were represented by international firm DLA Piper which instructed Clive Freedman QC, Josephine Higgs and Philip Aspin of 7 King’s Bench Walk.