Carl Freer The entrepeneur who ran through £150m – then went spectacularly bust – MoneyWeek

GizmondoEuropehadbeenbleedingcashforsometime(in2004,lossesreached£49m),butitwasn’tuntilsummer2005–whenithadbeenlosinganaverageofmorethan£500,000adayforsixmonths–thatcreditorsclosedin。

InSeptember,afteraclutchoflawsuits,itwasrevealedthatafellowdirector,StefanEriksson,hadbeenconvictedoffraudmorethanadecadeagoinSwedenwhereheandtwootherGizmondoemployeeshadbeenpartofthe“Uppsalamafia”。

AllthreequitandFreerfollowed,thoughheinsistedhehadcommittednocrime。

HeiscurrentlylivinginBeverlyHills,tryingtoraisefinanceforanewtelecomsventure–XeroMobile。

Earlierthisyear,ErikssoncrashedaFerrarionthePacificCoastHighwaywhiledoing160mph。

“AsametaphorforthetaleofGizmondo,”saysLauranceinTheMailonSunday,“thedestructionoftheFerraricouldscarcelybebettered”。

IsFreer’sslateascleanasheclaims?

Freer’sresignationlastOctoberfollowednewsthatfellowdirectorStefanEriksson,the“jet-settingelectronicsmagnate”,wasalsoErikssonthe“crookfromUppsala”,saysTheMailonSunday。

IttranspiredthatErikssonhadbeensentencedtotenyearsinSwedenforreceivingstolengoodsandattemptingtodefraudabankofnearly$2m。

HeworkedwithFreerafterhewasreleasedfromjailandthenbroughttwoUppsalacronies,PeterUfandJohanEnander,intoGizmondo。

Ufhadbeensentencedtomorethaneightyearsonfraudcharges;Enanderwassentencedtosixforoffencesincludingassaultandblackmail。

FreerhastriedtodistancehimselffromtheUppsalatrio,buthisownslateisnotascleanashemightlike。

AccordingtoTheSundayTimes,apoliceraidonhisBel-Airmansionand110ftyachtyieldedastashof16guns。

Hehasliedinthepasttoboosthisreputation,saysthepaper,claiminginofficialpapersthathewasatrusteeofKingsMedicalResearchTrustandthatheco-foundedasoftwarecompany,VXtreme,whichwassoldtoMicrosoftin1997。

Bothclaimsareuntrue,thoughFreersaystheVXtremereferencewasamistake。

Inhisteens,Freerwasconvictedoffraudafterforginghisparents’signaturetogetaloanandlastyearhewasfined£135,000byaGermancourtforwritingbouncingchequeswhileworkingasacardealerinthe1990s。

Freersayshecancelledachequeafterhethoughthewasbeingsoldstolencars。

ThebadsmellsurroundingFreerislikelytopersist:detailsofopaquebusinesstransactionsatGizmondoarecomingtolight,anditisclaimedhiswifewaspaidover$170,000for“marketingandpublicrelationsservices”。

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