Jurors find con artists guilty of £12m fraud on Norfolk businessman

Norwich businessman and Christian philanthropist Graham Dacre.

Norwich businessman and Christian philanthropist Graham Dacre.

Two international fraudsters were found guilty this afternoon of the biggest fraud ever investigated by Norfolk police.

George Katcharian, 60, and Cemal Esmene, 56, were convicted by a jury of conspiring to defraud Norfolk businessman Graham Dacre out of almost £12m.

Iranian-born Katcharian was also found guilty of conspiring to defraud a German church of 10m euros, while Esmene was convicted of laundering the cash.

The men denied the charges, but it took jurors a day to find them guilty following a five-week trial at Norwich Crown Court.

Mr Dacre, the Christian philanthropist behind the Open Venue and the Open Academy in Heartsease, fell for the fraud compared to a “card trick” in May 2008.

He handed over £11.9m and was promised huge returns on the investment through a secret, high-yield trading platform, which was controlled by Katcharian.

But the promised returns never materialised.

In May, Alan Hunt, 65, of Poole, Dorset, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud Mr Dacre alongside Arthur ‘Trevor’ Ford-Batey, 62, of Carlisle, while Ian Yorkshire, 62, of Clarendon Villas, Brighton, was convicted of conspiracy to launder the money.

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