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A controversial legal adviser dubbed the ‘Devil’s advocate’ for representing a variety of high-profile criminals appeared in court today (TUE) to deny claims he is not a qualified Italian lawyer.

Giovanni Di Stefano, 57, is alleged to have lied about his credentials when acting for clients in 2007.

He earned his nickname after representing notorious crooks including train robber Ronnie Biggs and serial killer Harold Shipman as well as advising the team that defended Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein.

Di Stefano is already due to stand trial in January 2013 over allegations he defrauded clients out of £140,000.

Today he appeared in the dock at Southwark Crown Court to deny a further eight counts of fraud and two counts using a false instrument with intent it be accepted as genuine.

Prosecutors allege he made 'false representations to Subash and Kiran Thakrar namely that he was a qualified Italian lawyer' and kept £476,000 belonging to the Thakrars claiming it would be 'held on trust and only released to annul the bankruptcy of Subash Takrar'.

The former Dundee FC director is alleged to have failed to pay fees due to 'professional clients' Michael Wolkind QC and Richard Ferry-Swainson while acting as a legal advisor for David Brown.

Prosecutors claim Di Stefano, also while acting as a legal advisor, 'failed to insure that Tamara Zegarac was reimbursed the sum of £12,000 paid for her benefit by Cerner Ltd' and 'failed to provide any or any adequate representation' to Grant Wilkinson.

He is further accused of defrauding Patricia Walsh-Smith by claiming that 'if she bought a shareholding option in News of the World Online Ltd, her interest would be sold at a profit to Xing He Holdings Ltd'.

It is alleged Ms Walsh-Smith was also the victim of a second fraud after Di-Stefano said he would pay her rent for a period of three months.

He is also charged with two counts of using forged documents, namely 'a record purporting to show a transfer of funds into a bank account in the name of Hamptons Ltd' and 'a letter purporting to emanate from the Jordan Ahli Bank'.

Di Stefano pleaded not guilty to all the charges and will stand trial on the counts on January 14, when he will also be tried on a further 11 charges.

All the offences are alleged to have taken place between June 2004 and February 2012.

Judge Alistair McCreath remanded Di Stefano on bail ahead of his next appearance.

Di Stefano, of Canterbury, Kent, denies making four charges of fraud by false representation, four counts of fraud by abuse of position, and two counts using a false instrument with intent it be accepted as genuine.

He also denies ten counts of obtaining money transfers by deception, one count of attempting to obtain a money transfer by deception, three counts of acquiring criminal property, one count of using criminal property and two counts of fraud.


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