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Financiers jailed over £245m loans scam

A group of corrupt financiers who carried out a £245 million loans scam and squandered the profits on high-end prostitutes and luxury holidays have been jailed.

Consultant David Mills, 60, bribed HBOS manager Lynden Scourfield, 54, with designer goods, sex parties and "boys' jollies" to exotic locations.

The perks were a reward in exchange for loans which allowed Mills and his associates to profit from high consultancy fees.

Judge Martin Beddoe described Mills as "the devil to whom you (Scourfield) sold your soul. For sex, for luxury trips with or without your wife, for bling and for swag".

Scourfield was jailed for 11 years and three months while Mills was given 15 years at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.

Michael Bancroft, 73, was jailed for 10 years, Mark Dobson, 56, for four-and-a-half years, and John Cartwright, 72, for three-and-a-half years for their various roles in the fraud between 2003 and 2007.

Mills's wife Alison, 51, also played a major role in the corruption and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years.

Judge Beddoe said the case involved an "utterly corrupt senior bank manager letting rapacious, greedy people get their hands on a vast amount of HBOS's money and their tentacles into the businesses of ordinary decent people".

"And letting them rip apart those businesses, without a thought for the lives and livelihoods of those whom their actions affected, in order to satisfy their voracious desire for money and the trappings and show of wealth," he added.

Mills and his "loyal lapdog" Bancroft did not show a "shred of remorse" for ruining the lives of their victims, he continued.

"People have not only lost money but in some instances their homes, their families, and their friends," he added.

"Some who would have expected to be comfortable in retirement were left cheated, defeated and penniless."

The judge described Mills as a "thoroughly corrupt and devious man, adept at exploiting the weaknesses of others.

"You had your suckers into Scourfield, and through him you sought to leech the victims of his referrals dry and that most assuredly you did," he said.

Scourfield looked after corporate customers at HBOS's branch in Reading, Berkshire, until 2007, when he resigned.

"Yours was a monumental betrayal of your position - exploiting the obvious weaknesses in the bank's systems and the lack of proper supervision to which you should have been subject, lying to your seniors, falsifying documents, removing or avoiding protections the bank should have had," the judge added.

He was "mesmerised" by the luxury Mills lavished on him, including clothes, jewellery, luxury hotel stays, business-class flights and expensive meals at an oyster bar and a cheesecake restaurant.

Alison Mills invited Dobson and the Scourfields to go on trips to Ascot, while Mills, Bancroft, Scourfield and their wives holidayed together in Barbados to celebrate her 40th birthday.

Mills was convicted of conspiracy to corrupt, four counts of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property and his wife of conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Scourfield pleaded guilty before the trial to conspiracy to corrupt, four counts of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime.

Bancroft was convicted of conspiracy to corrupt, three counts of fraudulent trading and one of conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Cartwright, from Hyde, Cheshire, was convicted of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property, while Dobson, from Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, was found guilty of conspiracy to corrupt and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Mills was disqualified from being a company director for 12 years, Scourfield for nine years, Bancroft for 15 years and Cartwright for 10 years.

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