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GP Noble Boss, Associate Acquitted in U.K. Pension-Fraud Case

Tony Morris, the co-founder of U.K. finance firm Money Portal Plc, was found not guilty of stealing 52 million pounds ($80 million) from pension plans, the Serious Fraud Office said.

Morris, whose company owned pension fund operator GP Noble Trustees Ltd., and his associate Peter Malmstrom, were acquitted today at a London criminal court, the SFO said in an e-mailed statement. The men were on trial for about 11 weeks.

Morris was charged with stealing 30 million pounds from GP Noble and its pension funds between July and August 2007, and 22 million pounds from GP Noble and BDC Trustees Ltd. in April 2008. The SFO alleged at trial that the money was spent on luxuries including a 150,000-pound Aston Martin sports car.

Malmstrom was charged with money laundering for handling 6.95 million pounds of the funds allegedly stolen from pension funds administered by GP Noble in 2007 and 2008.

In a previous trial, former GP Noble director Graham Pitcher was convicted of conspiracy to defraud for misusing pension plan funds managed by the company, the SFO said. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Quentin Russell, a company adviser, was also convicted of fraud and forgery offenses in another related trial and was sentenced to 15 months in prison on January.

The cases, which ended last year, weren’t public until today because of U.K. reporting restrictions.

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