May 15, 2017 / 9:11 AM / 3 years ago

China releases British CEO of alleged million-dollar pyramid scheme

SHANGHAI, May 15 (Reuters) - Chinese prosecutors have dropped an investigation into the British chief executive of an alleged million-dollar pyramid scheme and allowed him to leave the country, a year after he was apprehended in a citizen’s arrest by an investor.

The prosecutors in Anshan, northern China decided not to bring charges of fraudulent collection of funds against the businessman, named David Byrne, because they did not have enough evidence, according to an official order seen by Reuters. The prosecutors declined to comment.

Byrne returned to Britain last week. He said last year he was not actually in charge of EuroFX, and that another Briton had “full authority” over him. He told Reuters that his release confirmed his innocence. “I will continue to do everything in my power to assist the victims,” he said.

Reuters reported last year how the venture, known as EuroFX, allegedly scammed thousands of investors in China and other countries. EuroFX was registered in Britain and had British headquarters.

Byrne was detained by Anshan police last May and freed on bail but barred from leaving China.

Li Shanbao, who represents a group of investors who say they lost around a billion dollars in the venture, said Byrne’s departure does not mean the case is closed.

“The 4,400 victims will not give up fighting to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Li said.

British police are not investigating the case, as they say most of the alleged victims are in China. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office, which investigates and prosecutes complex fraud, said it could “neither confirm nor deny any interest in EuroFX at this moment in time.”

Additional reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Edited by Sara Ledwith and Richard Woods

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