A crooked banker and his associates splashed out on luxury holiday homes, high-end cars, a superyacht and five-star hotel rooms as they lived the high life off the backs of struggling businesses.
Former HBOS executive Lynden Scourfield indulged in a lavish lifestyle and sex parties in return for orchestrating £245m of fraudulent loans with corrupt financiers.
The 54-year-old used his role as an advisor to loan money to struggling firms and force them to use a consultancy firm run by David Mills and his associates, who charged massive fees.
Photos reveal how the group spared no expense and spent millions on sprawling estates in the UK, expensive cars, gifts for themselves and holidays to the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
Mills’ lifestyle was especially lavish, with a luxury yacht and trips all over the world, while associate Michael Bancroft owned a stunning holiday home in Portugal, a farmhouse in York and several expensive cars.
He bribed Scourfield with huge sums of cash, expensive jewellery, luxury hotel stays, business class flights and sordid Viagra-fuelled sex sessions with prostitutes.
Scourfield earned around £88,600 a year from his job with HBOS, and was given a credit card by Mills – spending more than £57,000 on jewellery, clothes, and hotels during ‘jollies’ in Germany and the US.
One sex worker, known by the alias Suzie Best, described the fat cat banker as a ‘short, balding Danny Devito lookalike’ after a session at a rented Portman Square flat in 2005.
Another sex worker, dubbed FR, kept a diary detailing a lurid girl-on-girl show she and three other hookers performed for Mills, Bancroft, and Scourfield in October 2005.
HBOS, which was rescued by Lloyds Banking Group during the financial crisis, internally estimated the cost of Scourfield’s lending activity as more than £300m in early 2007.
Sources close to the investigation say the total value of the fraud may be closer to £1bn.
Mills, 60, and his wife Alison Mills, 51, and associates Bancroft, 73, Mark Dobson, 55, and John Cartwright, 71, were convicted of various roles in the fraud between 2003 and 2007 after a four-month trial at Southwark Crown Court.
Scourfield, pleaded guilty last year, is facing jail for one of Britain’s biggest ever frauds.
Court heard Scourfield, Mills and their wives went on a number of plush holidays together.
In 2004 Scourfield and Mills went on a £4,000 seven-day cruise from Florida on an AMEX card from a struggling business.
A month later the Scourfield and Mill took their wives for a three-day all inclusive six-star cruise from Nice to St Tropez, staying in the ship’s two-bedroom Royal Suite.
Mills and Scourfield went to the PGA golf show in Orlando a year later.
Scourfield also used the AMEX card to pay for stays in the five-star Westbury Hotel in Bond Street, Mayfair, and meals at Wilton’s Oyster Bar in St James’s, central London.
Alison Mills made sure to keep him sweet and flew him out to Barbados for her 40th birthday party with the Bancrofts.
She also invited Scourfield and his wife Jacqueline, 53, on trips to Ascot, including a stop in the Royal Enclosure in 2006.
In November that year he and Dobson traveled to Bangkok for five days for Mills’ 50th birthday – a trip that cost in excess of £13,500.
Many of the businesses went bankrupt owing millions as a result and some of the owners lost their homes.
The shocking scale of the fraud was executed by Scourfield forcing the bank’s customers to use Quayside Corporate Services, a firm of consultants run by Mills and his wife.
Once appointed, Mills and Bancroft would produce inflated cash flow forecasts and other figures.
HBOS would then extend far more money than the businesses needed, which Quayside would siphon off not only in fees but in loans that were lent on to other companies controlled by Mills and others – loans that would never be repaid.
If the business had good prospects, Bancroft or Mills would use their relationship with the bank, threatening owners that if they failed to accept their instructions, the bank would pull the plug.
They would then insist on a seat on the board, or a shareholding, or eventually, control of the business.
One company, Clode, was operating within its £2.9m overdraft in 2002 when a meeting was held to discuss its financial position – its total indebtedness to the bank by 2007 was £20.558m.
In cash fees alone, according to prosecutors in the trial, £28m went through the accounts of Mills, his wife and their associated companies.
The Crown Prosecution Service fraud division said it was one of the most complex cases ever investigated with millions of documents.
Stephen Rowland, of the CPS fraud division, said: “This had a very real impact on a lot of people, individuals who had worked had to build up companies.
“They found themselves losing their companies and in many cases losing their homes as well as suffering enormous emotional strain and trauma.
“There’s no way this was a victimless crime – as a result of this crime, real people suffered great hardship.”
Mr Rowland said: “There was a very seedy side to this case and that’s indicative of the kind of mindset and the kind of sleazy elements of these kinds of crimes.”
Mills was found guilty of conspiracy to corrupt, four counts of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
His wife was convicted of conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
Bancroft, who was convicted of conspiracy to corrupt, three counts of fraudulent trading and one of conspiracy to conceal criminal property, received £1m in payments.
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.
They are all due to be sentenced on Thursday.
Scourfield’s accountant, Jonathan Cohen, 57, was acquitted of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.