Gerard Lee Bevan was guided to become a stockbroker – benefitting from a family introduction to Ellis & Co, one of the oldest and stuffiest stock exchange firms where he became a partner.
Bevan and some associates acquired an insurance company and used the funds to finance the promotion of new share issues. They made millions in the boom which followed the 1914-1918 war but lost them just as fast when the boom turned to slump in 1920. More insurance companies were acquired to strip their assets: but the losses continued to grow.
When the 1920 financial collapse occurred, Bevan scurried around Europe desperately hoping to evade the police and his appalled wife.
Bevan himself was jailed for seven years – and ostracised. On release, he left the country and on death he was buried in an anonymous grave in Havana.
Chris is a former president of The Institute of Chartered Accountants.