Jail for Shipston man convicted of fraud and money laundering charges

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A man from Ilmington, near Shipston-on-Stour, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of corruption, fraud and money laundering offences.

Michael Bancroft, 73, was found guilty on Monday of one count of conspiracy to corrupt, between April 1, 2003 and September 29, 2010; three counts of fraudulent trading between April 1, 2003 and September 30, 2007 with regards Frank Theak and Roskilly Ltd/Magenta Studios, MSG and Remnant Media; and one count of conspiracy to conceal criminal property (‘money laundering’) between April 1, 2003 and September 29, 2010.

He was among six people to be jailed for a total of 47 years and nine months following a six year Thames Valley Police investigation into a complex multi-million pound corruption and fraud case involving HBOS bank employees and private business advisors dating back more than a decade.

Five people, four men and a woman, were found guilty on Monday, at Southwark Crown Court of corruption, fraudulent trading and money-laundering offences. One man was acquitted and another man had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

The trial began on September 12, 2016 and lasted more than four months. The convictions are the result of one of the largest fraud investigation of its kind in the UK. Those involved created a network of associations where legitimate struggling businesses were exploited by their bank managers who directed them to employ the services of expensive external consultants in return for bank loans.

The fraud resulted in these offenders profiting from hundreds of millions of pounds at the expense of businesses and a high street bank and its customers.

Also sentenced were David Mills, 60, of Todenham, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, to a total of 15 years’ imprisonment; his wife, Alison Mills, 51, of Todenham, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment; Lynden (also known as Gerard) Scourfield, 54, of Whitton Avenue West, Greenford, Middlesex, to 11 years and three months’ imprisonment; Mark Dobson, 56, of Brayfield Terrace, London, to four-and-half-years’ imprisonment; John Cartwright (also known as Tony) 72, of Knott Lane, Hyde, Cheshire, to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment

The five men and one woman were all charged in 2013 as part of a complex six year Thames Valley Police investigation called Operation Hornet, carried out by the Force’s Economic Crime Unit (ECU) after the case was referred to Thames Valley Police by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) because the offences originated from the Impaired Assets team of Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) based in Reading.

Senior investigating officer, Detective Superintendent Nick John, 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.

“Instead of offering advice and support these consultants including David Mills and Michael Bancroft would then take millions out of these companies by various means to fund lavish lifestyles.”