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'Banker bribed with sex parties cash in exchange for loans'

Published 27/09/2016

Southwark Crown Court heard of lavish spending with the card
Southwark Crown Court heard of lavish spending with the card

A banker was allegedly bribed with "funny money" to spend on girls for sex parties in exchange for loans which consultants he worked with profited from, a court has heard.

HBOS banker Lynden Scourfield and others are said to have attended several parties involving high-end escorts where sex acts allegedly took place at a flat in west London, Southwark Crown Court was told.

A man employed by consultant David Mills, whose corporate entity Quayside (QCS) was engaged to advise some of the high-risk businesses under Scourfield's portfolio, was asked to deliver an envelope of cash several times to a flat one of the businesses rented, prosecutor Brian O'Neill said.

He said John Cartwright, who had asked the employee to deliver the cash while a consultant for Mills, Michael Bancroft, was away in the summer of 2005, said it was "funny money" for Scourfield, 54, to pay for girls.

Scourfield, who is not on trial, looked after corporate customers experiencing financial difficulties at HBOS's branch in Reading, Berkshire, until 2007, when he resigned.

Mills, 59, and his wife Alison Mills, 51, from Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, Michael Bancroft, 73, from Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, Mark Dobson, 55, from Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, Jonathan Cohen, 57, from Pinner, Middlesex, and John Cartwright, 71, from Hyde, Cheshire, appeared in the dock on Tuesday.

The list of charges, which the six deny, includes conspiracy to corrupt, fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

A woman known as "FR" described one occasion in a diary entry from December 2005, which read: "Met guys, me, Amber and Suzie. Chinese meal. Then drinks at flat and quick shag. Easy £1500. Home late and drunk", the prosecutor said.

This corresponded to a December 2005 diary entry made by an employee who worked at Fantasy, part of Remnant - a porn magazine company under Scourfield's HBOS portfolio.

She remembered being asked to arrange some girls for the head of Remnant Simon Robinson's "posh twat banker friends", Mr O'Neill said.

Her note read: "Royal China Restaurant, Baker Street in the name of Michael Bancroft", he told the court, and analysis of Bancroft's business credit card showed he was a frequent visitor to the restaurant.

The group including Scourfield and Bancroft went to a nearby flat, where various sex acts took place, Mr O'Neill said, and a woman identified as "Suzie Best" described one of the men as being a "Danny Devito lookalike - short and bald".

Scourfield also was allegedly bribed by Mills with free travel at the expense of a company called Bradman Lake Group Ltd (BLG), and had free rein over an American Express card the consultant owned for more than two years, the court heard.

He went on several trips, some of which were clearly "boys' jollies", prosecutor Brian O'Neill said.

Some of the purchases allegedly included a Cartier watch worth more than £3,000 in Barbados in 2005 and a six-star, all-inclusive cruise on the Mediterranean for the Scourfield and Mills couples in October 2004.

Together they occupied the second most expensive accommodation on the ship, the two-bedroom Royal Suite, Mr O'Neill said.

Tom Angus, a senior HBOS director from 2006 and Scourfield's direct line manager, said in a statement read out in court: "The very fact that he had a card would place him in an indefensibly vulnerable position. If personal usage is on the card then the suspicion would be that there can only be one reason - that the client wants you to do something in return that may not be in keeping with your duty of care to the bank."

Clothes, jewellery, luxury hotels and business-class flights were all frequently purchased using the card, while further lavish spending took place at an oyster bar and a cheesecake restaurant, the court heard.

On several occasions, Scourfield asked the person organising the trips to send the details to his personal email rather than his HBOS one, Mr O'Neill said.

In total, the Scourfields allegedly received almost £60,000 in identifiable corrupt gifts in this way, the court heard.

The perks were intended to reward Scourfield in exchange for loans which enabled Mills and others to charge high consultancy fees, the prosecution alleges.

The trial continues.

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