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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Hanif Kureishi loses life savings in fraud case

PTI  London, May 04, 2013
First Published: 15:18 IST(4/5/2013) | Last Updated: 15:19 IST(4/5/2013)

Britain's bestselling author of Asian-origin, Hanif Kureishi, has lost his life savings of 120,000 pounds in a property investment, becoming the latest high-profile personality to be duped in a suspected fraud.

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The London-based novelist and screenwriter of Pakistani-origin, best known for writing My Beautiful Laundrette and The Buddha of Suburbia, told the Guardian that
he had little knowledge of financial affairs, but had been persuaded to invest by his accountant, Adam Woricker, a former partner with Fisher Phillips, a north London firm of chartered accountants.

58-year-old author Kureishi had been introduced to the firm by his agent in 2011.

Fisher Phillips, which is thought to have a number of big-name media clients, yesterday strenuously denied its involvement and said its then partner, Woricker, had acted entirely alone.

"Fisher Phillips is not authorised to advise clients on this type of investment and we simply don't do it. We write to our clients telling them this," said Robert Ward, a current partner at the firm.

Woricker is thought to have raised similar large sums from several other "clients and friends" and was sacked by Fisher Phillips last July.

40-year-old Woricker was sacked by the firm last July and arrested by Essex police in March on suspicion of false representation and theft, but no charges have been brought against him as yet.

"Fisher Phillips sent over a partner and he was very helpful and charming. When he proposed this investment to me, he said many other clients and other writers are making this investment… I said, great. He worked for a very respectable firm that had been in business for 60 years, one that came highly recommended by my agent,"  told the Guardian.

Kureishi made an initial investment of 50,000 pounds and received the first promised interest of 7,500 pounds. He then invested a second tranche, a further 70,000 pounds, in May last year.

"The next thing I know is that I get a call from Fisher Phillips telling me they have sacked him and that I should talk to my lawyers. I've been told there's little prospect of me getting my money back," said Kureishi.

"Fisher Phillips has denied all knowledge, refused to apologise to me, refused to make recompense and until this week have refused to meet with me in any way," he added. Kureishi is now in the process of filing a complaint against the firm along with two other victims.

Kureishi, who was recently a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen for his services to literature, says the money lost in the investment had been intended to cover "the ups and downs of being a writer".


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