LONDON — A former HBOS banker and five others were sentenced to a combined 48 years in prison on Thursday for a scam that cost the lender £245 million ($286 million) and ruined the finances of small business clients.
Lyndon Scourfield, who ran the HBOS impaired assets division and who had pleaded guilty to six counts including corruption, received an 11 year sentence.
David Mills, a consultant who ran Quayside Corporate Services, was jailed for 15 years.
Four others — Quayside consultant Michael Bancroft, accountants Tony Cartwright and HBOS manager Mark Dobson — were sentenced to between three and half years and 10 years in prison. Another defendant, Jonathan Cohen, was acquitted.*
Judge Martin Beddoe, called Mills the “devil” to whom Scourfield had sold his soul “for sex, for luxury trips with and without your wife, for bling and for swag,” according to a report in the Guardian.
Prosecutors alleged that, between 2003 and 2007, the six were involved in a scam which saw the HBOS managers and a firm of consultants profit from driving small businesses into financial distress with loans.
Scourfield’s loans went “well past the point when it would have been obvious to any honest banker that the bank debt could and would never be repaid,” the prosecuting lawyer, Brian O’Neill QC, told Southwark Crown Court, according to a report by the BBC when the case opened last year.
He then referred the troubled businesses to Quayside Corporate Services in return for cash and gifts, while the consultants made large sums in fees from the struggling companies. The total losses to the bank from the soured loans amounts to around £245 million.
Detective Superintendent Nick John, the senior investigating officer said: “This has been the longest and most complex case in Thames Valley Police’s history.”
“The sentencing reflects the severity of the crimes and the misery they inflicted on their victims. Their victims were people who were trying to contribute to the economy, creating jobs and offering goods and services. They were normal people running small to medium sized businesses who needed support and instead had their livelihoods, and in many cases, their lives destroyed by the greed of these parasites.”
Scourfield took gifts of cash, luxury holidays and “high class escorts.” One sex worker’s diary was entered into evidence in the trial. Prosecutors claimed that one sex worker recorded this note in her diary: “met guys, me, Amber and Suzie. Chinese meal. Then drinks at flat and quick shag. Easy £1500.”
HBOS, which owned the Halifax and Bank of Scotland brands, suffered heavy losses in the 2008 financial crisis and neared collapse as its funding was cut off by the credit crunch.
It had to be rescued by a combination of a public bailout and a merger with Lloyds TSB, costing the taxpayer around £20 billion in the early part of 2009.
So far, only one person — former HBOS wholesale banking chief Peter Cummings — has been fined and banned from working in the City by regulators investigating the collapse.
*Correction: An earlier version of this story wrongly said that Jonathan Cohen was convicted. He was not. In fact, he was acquitted. Business Insider apologises to Mr. Cohen for this error.
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