Victims lost companies, livelihoods and homes amid £245 million scam


Some victims lost their companies, livelihoods and even homes as a result of a £245 million scam for which a group of corrupt financiers have been jailed.

Paul and Nikki Turner, from Cambridge, were ignored for years when they tried to report what was going on after their publishing company, Zenith, was run into the ground in the scandal.

"They defrauded us, denied for 10 years that the fraud had happened, ignored the debt from the fraud and tried to evict us 22 times in order to cover up the fraud," Mrs Turner said outside court.

"Other people lost everything, including marriages broken up, because of this."

Joanne Dove, from West Sussex, said she lost millions when she felt forced to sell her up-and-coming nappy laundry service Cotton Bottoms.

Speaking outside court, she described the sentences as fair but spoke of the financial and personal losses suffered.

She said: "We've served a prison sentence for 12 years since this happened and we have lived in penury. While he (consultant David Mills) has been waiting for trial he has lived a luxury life on all the assets that he has built up.

The mother-of-five said: "I will never get the time back. That's the sad thing. I will never get my children's childhoods back to give them the things they would have had, had they (the defendants) not defrauded me."

Terry Holligan was managing director of tie company Magenta, which had products in Marks and Spencer, Next and Debenhams.

The Liverpool man said he had worked with Michael Bancroft and described him as a "lunatic bully".

He described how he had noticed the firm's overdraft rising by millions but when he asked questions he was told to mind his own business.

He said: "They have really ruined businesses that had massive potential. And that led to unemployment for people, houses taken away from people."

Mills, 60, bribed HBOS manager Lynden Scourfield, 54, with designer watches, sex parties and "boys' jollies".

The perks were a reward in exchange for loans which allowed Mills and his associates to profit from high consultancy fees.

Scourfield was jailed for 11 years and three months while Mills was given 15 years at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.

Bancroft, 73, was jailed for 10 years, Mark Dobson, 56, for four-and-a-half years, and John Cartwright, 72, for three-and-a-half years for their various roles in the fraud between 2003 and 2007.

Mills's wife Alison, 51, also played a major role in the corruption and was sentenced to three and a half years.

Mills was convicted of conspiracy to corrupt, four counts of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property and his wife of conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Scourfield pleaded guilty before the trial of conspiracy to corrupt, four counts of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime.

Bancroft was convicted of conspiracy to corrupt, three counts of fraudulent trading and one of conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

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.