The UK press reported this week that a trader named Joe Lewis of Yorkshire has disappeared after admitting earlier this month that his investment firm actually stopped operating back in 2009. Despite the firm not engaging in any trading for years, investors in JL Trading continued to receive detailed monthly trading statements until September 2014, the Financial Times reports, and JL Trading claimed to manage $200 million in client funds as of last month.
The Mirror reports that in September and November 2014, Lewis (who has now been dubbed the "British Madoff" or the "UK Madoff" by some publications) sent clients emails that blamed the firm's inability to return funds to investors on "problems with the American regulators" and on a single U.S. broker that he claimed was holding on to $260 million of JL Trading's funds. On December 3, however, Lewis sent another email in which he admitted that JL Trading had ceased to carry on business, and that "the business has lost almost all of its assets, and there appears no prospect of those assets being recouped.... This means that, contrary to what was reported to you previously, you cannot expect any payments in the future."
On December 5, Lewis sent one more email to clients in which he claimed he was "not running away from things" and would do his "best to remedy this situation." The very next day, Lewis visited a local police station to discuss the case, and was permitted to leave because, police said, "the case was still being assessed for suitability of arrest." After leaving the police station, The Mirror reports, Lewis briefly visited relatives in East Yorkshire and then "disappeared."