SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A Jewish businessman accused of defrauding investors of $1.7 billion reportedly has left his home in Sydney fearing for his safety.
South African-born Barry Tannenbaum has “relocated to what he perceives to be a safer location,” his lawyer, Darryl Ackerman, said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg, adding that his client was not fleeing prosecution.
South African authorities issued an arrest warrant for Tannenbaum last month along with his Swiss-based associate Dean Rees, who also is implicated in the Ponzi scheme. The scheme is believed to have duped about 800 investors in several countries who allegedly were promised returns of up to 200 percent.
Tannenbaum, whose assets also have been frozen in South Africa, denied the “wild allegations” as “conjecture and speculation” when the alleged scheme was revealed in June.
The Sydney Morning Herald tracked him down to Sydney’s North Shore, where he had been living with his family for several years. His children attended the local Jewish school and Tannenbaum had been a member of an Orthodox synagogue.
Tannenbaum, who comes from a family of well-known philanthropists in South Africa, is pictured on the Lubavitch.org Web site holding a Torah scroll he helped donate to a Chabad house in South Africa in 2006.