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A former HBOS banker who a judge said “sold his soul” to a corrupt business consultant in return for sex, luxury trips and “bling and swank” has been jailed for 11 years.
Lynden Scourfield, 54, who was lead director of HBOS’s impaired-assets division, formed a “corrupt relationship” with David Mills, 60, a business consultant, between 2003 and 2007. Both men were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, along with four others found guilty by a jury after a trial that ended on Monday.
Scourfield pleaded guilty to six counts including four counts of fraudulent trading before the trial began last September and was sentenced on Thursday to 11 years in prison. Mills was sentenced to 15 years after he was found guilty by a jury earlier this week of six allegations, including four counts of fraudulent trading.
Scourfield headed a division at HBOS that dealt with small companies in financial distress.
He and the conspirators embarked on a spending spree involving yachts in the Mediterranean, villas in Barbados and Majorca, prostitutes, overseas bank accounts and a general high life. This came at the expense of the bank and small businesses, which were driven into the ground.
In return for expensive gifts, cash, foreign travel and sex with prostitutes, Scourfield referred his clients to Mills and his restructuring consultancy QCS as a condition of obtaining more credit from HBOS. This allowed Mills and his associates to demand huge fees and in some cases take over some of the struggling businesses for their own benefit.
The fraudulent trading, corruption and money-laundering forced HBOS, now part of Lloyds Banking Group, to write off £245m in loans.
Prosecutor Brian O’Neill QC opened the Crown’s case against Scourfield on Thursday as part of the sentencing process. He told the judge that this was a “simple tale of greed, corruption, dishonesty and fraud with Lynden Scourfield together with David Mills at the very heart.”
Sentencing Mills, Scourfield and their four associates, Judge Martin Beddoe called Mills a “thoroughly corrupt and devious man” who was able to “exploit the weakness of others” and “get others to do your dirty work.”
He said that Mills was the “devil” to whom Scourfield had “sold his soul” in return for “bling and swank” in one of the worst corruption cases he had ever seen.
Four other associates were also sentenced on Thursday.
Michael Bancroft, an associate of Mills, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of five counts including conspiracy to corrupt earlier this week. Fellow associate Tony Cartwright was sentenced to 3.5 years after being convicted of two counts. Mills’ wife Alison, who was convicted on a single count of money laundering, received a 3.5 year prison sentence. Mark Dobson, another HBOS banker who worked under Scourfield, received a 4.5 year jail term after he was found guilty on two counts including conspiracy to corrupt.
Many of the businesses which had been driven into the ground and ruined by Scourfield and Mills were in court for the sentencing.