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Absolute Capital Founder Homm Released From Italian Jail

Florian Homm, the founder of Cayman Islands-based Absolute Capital Management Holdings Ltd. who was arrested last year at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, was released from jail in Italy, his lawyers said.

Homm left the facility in Pisa last night after an Italian court ruled the period for which he could be held waiting for possible extradition to the U.S. had expired, Gabriele Zanobini, Homm’s Italian lawyer, said today by phone from Florence. Homm is now in Germany, said Jan Handzlik, his U.S. lawyer.

Homm, 54, was arrested last year at the request of U.S. prosecutors, who have charged him with defrauding investors in his hedge funds out of $200 million. The German citizen had been a fugitive since 2007. Prosecutors said they tracked him down after he went on German television to promote an autobiography recounting his life as “rogue financier.”

A federal jury in Los Angeles last year indicted Homm for securities fraud. He was accused of “cross trading” billions of shares of penny stocks between the company’s funds to boost the value of the otherwise illiquid securities. Homm and his co-conspirators made more than $53 million from the scheme, prosecutors said.

Extradition Request

The Italian Supreme Court’s ruling ordering Homm’s release ends the U.S. attempt to extradite him from that country, according to Handzlik. If the U.S. still wants him brought to California to face fraud charges, it would have to bring an extradition request in Germany, Handzlik said.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, declined to comment on Homm’s release.

Italy’s highest court, la Corte Suprema di Cassazione, in January rejected Homm’s appeal of the extradition order. That gave the U.S. 45 days to secure his extradition, according to Handzlik. He faces as long as 75 years in U.S. prison if he is extradited and convicted.

In his book, Homm, who is about 6 feet, 6 inches (2 meters) tall, wrote that he had “$500,000 stashed in my underwear, my briefcase and my cigar box,” when he left Palma de Mallorca in Spain on a private plane Sept. 18, 2007. His “mule and friend Giorgio” was carrying another $700,000, according to a translation in an affidavit the FBI filed in federal court last year.

Homm lived in Cartagena, Colombia, after he fled Spain, according to his book.

He is also a defendant in a securities-fraud lawsuit brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. That case was put on hold last year pending the resolution of the Justice Department’s prosecution. In a declaration filed in the SEC case, Homm has said that all his activities were conducted in “good faith performance” of his job.

The case is U.S. v. Homm, 13-cr-00183, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

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