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Swiss financier gets 5-1/2 years in jail for fraud

ZURICH, Sept 30 A former Swiss fund manager accused of cheating 2,000 investors out of around 800 million Swiss francs ($826 million) was sentenced to 5-1/2 years in jail on Friday, more than a decade after his investment empire collapsed.

The Federal Criminal Court ruling caps a weeks-long trial of Dieter Behring, who was accused of fraud and money laundering.

Behring, who has denied wrongdoing, did not respond immediately to an email request for comment. The ruling is not final as Behring may file an appeal.

The court also ordered the forfeiture of frozen funds and told Behring to pay the government 100 million francs in damages, it said on its website.

Behring and several partners ran a trading system from Basel, Switzerland, that he said produced "above-average results" for investors before it collapsed in 2004.

He was arrested in October 2004, initiating what became one of the Swiss attorney general's longest-running investigations that finally led to an indictment late last year.

Prosecutors accused Behring of raking in hundreds of millions of francs by promising rich returns to investors via an automated trading system.

"We regret the large losses of those damaged ... but we also have lost everything that we had built up in the previous decades," Behring had wrote on a website he created to outline his arguments and share hundreds of related documents.

He said other people took the money after being consumed by what he called a "growing and insatiable greed". (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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