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Court convicts former HBOS managers in £1B business fraud case


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Court convicts former HBOS managers in £1B business fraud case

Two former HBOS Plc senior managers, Lynden Scourfield and Mark Dobson, were among six people found guilty of bribery and fraud in what a special fraud prosecutor said was one of the largest and most complex cases the division had prosecuted, BBC News reported Jan. 30.

The court also convicted David Mills and his wife Alison Mills, along with Michael Bancroft and John Cartwright, the report added. David Mills, Dobson and Bancroft were found guilty at Southwark Crown Court on counts including bribery, fraud and money laundering on Jan. 30, while Mills' wife and Cartwright were convicted for their parts in the conspiracy. Another defendant, Jonathan Cohen, was acquitted, BBC News reported.

Scourfield pleaded guilty to six counts including corruption last year.

According to the report, Scourfield referred HBOS' small business clients to Quayside, a business turnaround firm run by Mills and Bancroft, in exchange for bribes from the pair between 2003 and 2007. Quayside extracted huge fees from firms and Mills and Bancroft abused their relationship with HBOS to take control of the businesses and strip their assets.

Quayside also gave HBOS inflated cash flow forecasts for the businesses, prompting the bank to lend far more than they needed, with Quayside siphoning off fees and money that was lent on to other companies they controlled.

In 2007, the bank estimated the internal loss due to these fraudulent activities to be more than £300 million. However, the total value of the fraud, including losses suffered by HBOS' business customers, was believed to be nearer £1 billion, the BBC reported, citing sources close to the investigation.

Prosecutor Brian O'Neill said Scourfield failed to protect the bank's financial interests, and as a result of his actions and those of David Mills and Bancroft, individuals involved in the small businesses suffered "great financial loss and considerable personal trauma."