A senior banker, financial consultant and their associates who conspired to enrich themselves, driving businesses into the ground in the process, have been convicted of corruption, fraudulent trading and money laundering.
The scheme, led by former banker David Mills, 60, and Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) employee Lynden Scourfield, 54, eventually saw the bank incur losses in the region of £250million.
Scourfield headed a department at HBOS which dealt with businesses in financial difficulty. Having been bribed by Mills he required selected customers of the bank to engage the services of Mills and his company Quayside Corporate Services Ltd in order to obtain further lending from HBOS.
Scourfield then advanced large sums of money to the businesses, well past the point that it should have been obvious the debt could never be repaid.
This enabled Mills and his associates – his wife Alison, Michael Bancroft, and Tony Cartwright – to demand very high fees for their ‘consultancy services’. In some cases Mills and Bancroft were able to take over the running of the ailing firms for their own benefit.
Many of the businesses affected by the group’s actions went into liquidation resulting in job losses, financial hardship, marital breakdowns, the loss of their homes and serious ill-health.
The police investigation uncovered evidence of huge rewards provided to Scourfield by Mills to reward his corruption, including cash payments and money transfers amounting to several hundreds of thousands of pounds. Mills also provided lavish hospitality, expensive foreign holidays and sex workers including prostitutes.
Stephen Rowland, Specialist Prosecutor from the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, said:
“Many people have had their lives ruined by the corrupt behaviour of Lynden Scourfield, David Mills and their associates.
“Scourfield worked in a section of his bank which was supposed to help struggling businesses but instead, motivated by greed, he went about stripping them of their assets.
“This was a complicated prosecution due to the volume and complexity of the financial transactions and the large sums of money involved. But in the end thanks to the work of prosecutors and investigators the jury were left in no doubt that the actions of these six defendants were criminal.”
Scourfield pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corrupt, conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime and four counts of fraudulent trading in August 2016. Following a five-month trial at Southwark Crown Court, David Mills, Alison Mills, Bancroft, Cartwright and HBOS employee Mark Dobson, 56, were convicted of various corruption offences (see below).
Jonathan Cohen, 60, was acquitted of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
Those convicted are due to be sentenced on Thursday (February 2).
Notes to Editors
· Lynden Scourfield, 54, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corrupt, conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime and four counts of fraudulent trading in August 2016. Reporting restrictions have been in place for the duration of the trial involving David Mills and others.
· Following a five-month trial at Southwark Crown Court which concluded in January 2017, the following people were convicted:
- Michael Bancroft, , convicted of conspiracy to corrupt, three counts of fraudulent trading and one of conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
- David Mills, , convicted of conspiracy to corrupt, four counts of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
- Mark Dobson, , convicted of conspiracy to corrupt and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
- Alison Mills, , convicted of conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
- Tony Cartwright, , convicted of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
· Jonathan Cohen, , was acquitted of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.