Harvard-educated lawyer faces jail after fleecing businesswoman of £2m

Harvard-educated lawyer faces jail after fleecing businesswoman out of £2m and blowing fortune in casinos after convincing her to invest in £12.6m Mayfair home she had never seen

A Harvard-educated lawyer who fleeced a wealthy businesswoman out of £2m and blew a fortune in top casinos is facing jail.

Tim Damiani, 70, persuaded Aysun Kibar to invest £1.5m in a luxury home she had never even seen in Mayfair.

When she asked for her money back he told her he had no idea what she was talking about, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Ms Kibar’s family own the Turkish export company Kibar Holdings where she is on the board of directors.

She was also a close childhood friend of Damiani’s wife and they grew up together in Turkey.

Damiani was due to face trial this week for three counts of fraud, but he admitted a single charge of theft, reflecting his overall dishonesty and the prosecution accepted his plea.

The three fraud charges were ordered to lie on file.

Damiani, who was rushed to hospital earlier in the week after complaining of chest pains, will return for sentence on 29 February next year.

The defendant persuaded Aysun Kibar to invest £1.5million in a luxury Mayfair home in the con

He persuaded Ms Kibar to invest £1.5million in this luxury home she had never even seen in Mayfair

Prosecutor Sophie Stannard earlier told the court Ms Kibar was ‘born into a very affluent family.

‘She is able to travel the world, to different parts of Europe frequently and she has shares in her family’s business.

‘She has an annual income of 300,000 US dollars per year.

‘Even though she lives this quite cosmopolitan lifestyle she has been brought up in Turkey and resonates with the country’s values.

‘Her wealth is the sort of wealth that if you ask someone to do something for you it’s done.

‘In Turkey it is rare for a woman to have direct contact with a married male.

‘As Ms Kibar understood it, the defendant came from an affluent family and he was very well connected.

‘He was a lawyer and went to Harvard.

‘Ms Kibar visited Mr Damiani and his wife in Milan and Switzerland and Cambridge and as far as she was concerned they were her good friends and she had no reason not to trust them.’

The court heard when Ms Kibar she asked for her money back for the proposed purchase of the house, pictured, he told her he had no idea what she was talking about

During the visit to Cambridge in 2016 she told Damiani how she was considering obtaining a UK residency herself due to the unrest in Turkey at the time.

Damiani told Ms Kibar he had a ‘plenty of experience’ making application for British residency and he would help her.

He told her he could get her a discounted fee of £300,000 and would sort out British passports for herself and her two children.

Ms Kibar made three separate payments of £75,000, £80,000 and £150,000 to Damiani’s bank account, between April and June 2016.

The extra £5,000 was paid after Damiani encouraging her to set up a trust so she could make property investments in a ‘tax efficient way.’

She flew out with her family to Cannes with Damiani and his wife where they all dined together on 21 July 2016.

Ms Kibar again expressed her worries about the unrest in Turkey and Damiani suggested her family should apply for Italian passports, saying a friend called ‘Giuseppe’ could help.

Damiani sent a WhatsApp message to Ms Kibar on 8 September 2016 that read: ‘Things will be ready tomorrow spoke to my friends in Rome they asked me about the rest of the family.

‘I said too expensive they said they can do everything for £80,000, for £40,000 they can’t do more than 10 people.’

The prosecutor said: ‘In essence the Crown says the defendant was saying he had spoken to connections in Rome and as long as they were dealing with at least 10 people they could deal with the whole application for £40,000..’

Ms Kibar transferred £200,313 to Damiani in return for the Italian passports, that she never received.

She also discussed investing in properties and Damiani told her of an ‘amazing opportunity’ for her, the court heard.

‘He had an exceptional property that an Arab man was selling and said they could invest in it together,’ Ms Stannard said.

‘The owner was an important man who needed to sell the property quicky because the relationship had broken down with his mistress.

‘He could get the property for less due to the need for selling quickly.

‘When they met, the defendant showed her the property on [28] Charles Street in Mayfair,’ said Ms Stannard.

‘Due to an internal inspection he said they couldn’t view property just yet, it was a very delicate issue due to the mistress, however he had all matters in hand.’

Damiani convinced Ms Kibar to invest £1.5m into the property – now valued at £12.6m – and Ms Kibar subsequently transferred the money to Damiani’s account on 29 September 2016.

‘A few weeks went by and Ms Kibar became concerned that she had heard nothing more about the passport or completion of property.’

‘Ms Damiani did her own research and realised the property was worth way more than said and discovered the property was linked to Mr Damiani’s brother..’

On 11 November Ms Kibar emailed Damiani asked him to return her money and asked for it to be transferred to her Turkish bank account.

Damiani told Ms Kibar she would have her money in 2-3 days, the court heard.

‘Unsurprisingly she didn’t have her money in 3 days,’ Ms Stannard said.

After months of messaging Damiani with no response Ms Kibar’s bank wrote to the lawyer on 25 January 2017 asking where her money was.

‘Mr Damiani replied saying he didn’t know what Ms Kibar was talking about, how she owed him money and he was no longer a British resident,’ Ms Stannard said.

‘Mr Damiani has squandered away Ms Kibar’s money, Mr Damiani had dissipated Kibar’s money and spent just shy of half a million in casinos, gave £76,500 to his children and not a single penny returned to Ms Kibar.’

He was extradited from Italy in 2020 following a request from the UK government.

Damiani, of Muswell Hill, north London, admitted one count of theft.

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