Wealth manager left bankrupt after bad bets on crypto, surfing
A former Credit Suisse banker is facing personal bankruptcy in the fallout from several soured investments, adding to the rapid downfall for a once-feted London money manager.
Francis Menassa is now listed as bankrupt and has his assets frozen under a court order, according to recent UK registry filings. A holding company for the onetime banker’s investments owed almost £10 million ($12.1 million) to more than a dozen creditors through late April, while a shareholder’s loan account for Menassa was also overdrawn by about £950,000, the filings show.
Menassa is a founder of JAR Capital, which once disclosed assets totaling more than $1 billion across its wealth and asset-management divisions. He was ranked among the UK’s top private-client advisers before a court ordered JAR to wind up operations this year following unsuccessful bets on crypto and leisure assets along with a failed bid to buy a bank.
That process was completed at the end of October, filings show.
Menassa, 51, who started his career at Merrill Lynch before moving to Credit Suisse, didn’t respond to requests for comment. A representative for the firm managing insolvency proceedings for Menassa’s holding company, JAR Financial Management, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
JAR Capital previously had an office on Savile Row in London’s well-heeled Mayfair district that it exited in recent months. Menassa, meantime, has previously opined publicly on everything from blockchain to the US economy and positioned himself as a venture capitalist outside of his wealth-management duties.
Like in other nations, individuals in the UK face bankruptcy when they cannot repay their debts. The UK’s restrictions for those listed as bankrupt typically require them to notify lenders of their circumstances if they borrow more than £500 and seek court permission to create, manage or promote a company.
The investments that helped to spark Menassa’s financial troubles include The Wave, a roughly £25 million UK inland-surfing destination that launched shortly before the start of the pandemic.
JAR entities provided an undisclosed sum in 2018 to help fund the project. The Wave’s temporary closure during the pandemic created “significant” financial issues for its investors, according to documents for JAR Financial Management, where Menassa is listed as the major shareholder.
The holding company, which owned JAR Capital, also reported costs of at least £100,000 in 2018 from a failed takeover bid for an unidentified bank in Gibraltar, where Menassa’s wealth firm had operations. In addition, the firm invested more than £2 million in a crypto trading platform called BlockEx that Menassa later struggled to offload after prices for digital currency assets tumbled.
These soured investments led to JAR Capital's taking an “indirect hit” as its own clients had allocated capital to them, filings show. Meantime, the firm previously reported shrinking revenue each year between 2017 and 2020, the last year it reported full financials.
Menassa worked for Credit Suisse for about seven years before leaving the Swiss bank in 2007. He co-founded JAR Capital almost a decade ago after helping run money manager Plumiri Wealth.