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The untimely demise of pint-sized pop star Adam Faith brought back memories of his former business partner, Roger Levitt. In the late eighties, The Levitt Group seemed to be an enormously successful financial services business. Levitt, with his moustache, bow tie and million-dollar smile, was hugely successful at selling pensions and insurance plans, helped by celebrity introducers of business.

Faith was one such conduit. Another was Sebastian Coe, the Olympic gold medallist. Levitt made a big show of sponsoring boxer Lennox Lewis, ensnaring yet more potential clients.

All went well until Christmas 1990 when Fimbra, the watchdog for financial advisers, raided Levitt’s West End offices. The business folded, sending Faith and the rest running for cover.

Levitt went on trial accused of fraud and theft. The SFO prosecutor persuaded him to plead guilty to a charge of misleading Fimbra in return for dropping the more serious charges, but made a monstrous miscalculation. The judge found that the crime could be punished with nothing more onerous than community service.

Levitt walked free from court smiling more broadly than ever. He has spent the last few years in New York, including a brief stint as a boxing promoter. The DTI tried to extradite him a couple of years ago for running a UK business in defiance of a director’s ban, but the alleged offence was not covered by the US-UK extradition treaty.

Faith never liked to be reminded about the Levitt link, although some have been more forthcoming. Writer Frederick Forsyth lost more than £2 million when The Levitt Group folded. He once told me that he had been the guest of honour at Levitt’s son’s bar mitzvah. ‘I later found out why,’ he told me, wryly. ‘I was paying for it.’

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