by Malcolm Curtis
Geneva – April 3, 2009 | 18:05
EXCLUSIVE: A squad of 28 police officers raid the downtown Geneva offices of currency trading company ACM and seize documents, a computer and other evidence in a suspected financial fraud case. Swisster discovers the unprecedented investigation, being directed by an inspector and detective for the cantonal force’s financial fraud brigade, may take weeks to unravel and has involved the questioning of top officials from the company, who are refusing to comment.
Geneva police are continuing to investigate a foreign exchange trading company based in the city after launching an unprecedented raid of the firm’s downtown offices, a spokesman for the cantonal force said on Friday. Swisster has learned that a squad of officers raided the premises of ACM (Advanced Currency Markets) on Thursday morning seeking evidence in relation to a suspected financial fraud case.
“I can confirm to you that yesterday 28 police officers went to the offices (of ACM),” Geneva police spokesman Patrick Pulh told Swisster. Police took away documents, a computer and other evidence from the company’s premises at 50, rue du Rhône, he said.
In addition, senior officials were questioned by police, although Pulh said no-one has been arrested. A company employee told Swisster that a trader and four of the company’s senior management, including Nicholas Bang, deputy general manager and one of ACM’s founders, were contacted at their homes early Thursday and taken in for questioning.
“We are being told that it has to do with a client from two years ago based in Mexico who had lost a lot of money from the company,” the informant said. “The client was looking for documents to see if there was any misappropriation.”
Pulh confirmed that senior company officials were questioned but could not go into details. “At this moment no one has been arrested,” he said. An inspector and a detective from the cantonal police force’s financial fraud brigade are directing the investigation, Pulh said.
“It could take a few days or a few weeks to work on this case,” he said. “We are at the beginning of the investigation so that’s why we are not saying what kind of charges are being looked at . . . it’s early in the investigation.”
ACM did not immediately respond to an emailed request from Swisster for a statement about the investigation from company CEO Lloyd La Marca, or another representative. “I’m afraid we cannot comment on it,” said Claudia Schulz, a marketing spokesman for the company. “Personally I would not take responsibility for commenting.”
Schulz said she would pass on Swisster’s request to the company’s marketing manager. Operations at ACM, which employs a staff of about 100 people working on two floors, including sales staff and currency traders, appeared to continue normally on Friday.
Founded seven years ago by La Marca and Bang, former students at the University of Geneva, and Alexandre Axarlis, a former United Nations and World Trade Organization employee, ACM has grown to include offices in Zurich, New York, Dubai and Montevideo.
The company offers a range of currency trading services. ACM “offers the most competitive, transparent and simple execution to the foreign exchange trader,” according to its website.