A GROUP of bankers and consultants from the Halifax took part in a £245 million loan scam which saw funds splashed on high-end prostitutes and luxury holidays, a court has heard. Up until 2007 Lynden Scourfield, 54, was lead director of impaired assets for Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) in the south of England and South Wales, which provided advice to corporate customers experiencing financial difficulties, jurors at Southwark Crown Court were told.
David Mills, a former banker-turned-venture capitalist, was engaged frequently by Scourfield, who is not on trial, as a “turnaround consultant” to help improve these customers’ businesses. During 2003-2007 a corrupt relationship between Scourfield and Mills, 59, developed which was “at the heart of this case”, Judge Martin Beddoe told the jury.
Scourfield advanced huge sums to the businesses from HBOS, “well past the point when it would have been obvious to any honest banker that the bank debt could and would never be repaid”, prosecutor Brian O’Neill said as he opened the case. This enabled Mills and some of the others to charge high consultancy fees which they profited from, and in some cases run the businesses for their own gain, he alleged.
Mills and his wife Alison Mills, 51; Michael Bancroft, 73; Mark Dobson, 55; Jonathan Cohen, 57; and John Cartwright, 71, appeared in the dock at Southwark Crown Court on Monday. The list of charges includes conspiracy to corrupt, fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property. All wore dark suits, while Mrs Mills wore a black and white patterned dress.
Money and large rewards are alleged to have been given to Scourfield from Mills, which took the form of use of an American Express card, luxurious holidays and sex with high-class escorts, the court heard.
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