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10-year investigation uncovers multi-million pound fraud

Member: Nifa

An investigation described as the “longest and most complex case in the history of Thames Valley Police” has resulted in six people being convicted of a multi-million pound fraud. The five men, one of whom was a senior banker, and one woman were found guilty of corruption, fraudulent trading and money-laundering offences having profited from hundreds of millions of pounds at the expense of businesses, a high street bank and its customers. They were jailed for a total of almost 50 years for the £245m crime that left hundreds of small business owners “cheated, defeated and penniless”.

The criminals were found to have created a network of associations in which legitimate, struggling businesses were exploited by their bank managers, who directed them to employ the services of expensive external consultants in return for bank loans. Many of the firms went bankrupt as a result of the loans and some of the owners lost their homes as well.

Former HBOS manager, Lynden Scourfield, would force firms that needed cash to use crooked consultant David Mill’s consultancy firm. The pair would then use threats and extortion to seize control of the businesses, pocketing new loans granted in their name.

The fraud went on for so long because Scourfield would log unapproved loans into the system where anyone with appropriate levels of authority could change limits.  In addition, there were no audits at his branch. However, following an internal investigation, forensic accountants found ‘serious negligence and possible improper conduct’.

The six were charged in 2013 as part of a complex six-year investigation by Thames Valley’s Economic Crime Unit (ECU), where 150 members of staff trawled through more than half a million documents to get to the truth. The forensic investigation, as is usual, investigated lifestyle too, which in this case was lavish, including Caribbean holidays and ‘hospitality’ on an eye-watering scale.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 3 February 2017

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