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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 June, 2005, 23:39 GMT 00:39 UK
The secretary who stole 4 million
By Georgina Davies
Assistant Producer, BBC Television

Joyti De-Laurey
Joyti De-Laurey was convicted of theft and sentenced to seven years
It was the most talked about financial scandal of last year, a gripping blend of sex, shopping and high finance.

Now a new BBC drama documentary tells the extraordinary story of the Goldman Sachs secretary who stole 4.5m from her bosses, and spent it all on a lavish lifestyle of diamonds, designer labels and fast cars.

Joyti De-Laurey was a character heralded by some as a Robin Hood figure, dismissed by others as a greedy criminal.

She plundered her bosses' private bank accounts by forging their signatures and writing cheques to herself.

When it came to spending the money, the 37-year-old secretary from Cheam matched her millionaire bosses' tastes, pound for pound.

Amongst the millions she spent she bought an Aston Martin car, a 750,000 villa in Cyprus, and spent 350,000 on Cartier jewellery.

When you're making 60m a year, a few million missing is like a regular person not remembering the last penny on their account
Nomi Prins, former managing director, Goldman Sachs

Her bosses at Goldman Sachs earned such large sums of money that her crimes went unnoticed for months.

One former Goldman Sachs managing director Nomi Prins said: "When you're making 60m a year, a few million missing is like a regular person not remembering the last penny on their account."

Loose in a chocolate factory

Will Lewis, business editor of the Sunday Times, compared De-Laurey's temptation at Goldman Sachs to "a chocolate lover being let loose in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory".

Necklace and rings from the Cartier collection the De-Laurey bought
Cartier jewellery was a favourite of the PA

De-Laurey's decadent spending was the stuff of dreams.

She blew millions whilst maintaining an elaborate web of lies and fantasies that meant no-one questioned her new-found wealth.

"It was a never-ending shopping spree," said her sister-in-law, Elaine De-Laurey. "She used to pop in to the West End like it was her corner shop. She knew it like the back of her hand. She was on first-name terms with all the assistants."

Filming challenge

In the programme, interviews with De-Laurey's friends and family and letters written by her, help take the viewer inside her deluded mind.

As De-Laurey's wealth accumulated, she gained more and more weight.

By the time she clocked up 4.5m, she had expanded to a size 22.

Meera Syal, who plays De-Laurey, needed to fatten up to play the part, and during filming she wore plumpers in her cheeks, and padding.

The programme was shot out of sequence so Meera would be a size 10 in the morning for one scene and a size 22 for scenes shot in the afternoon.


De-Laurey was finally caught in May 2002 after her boss checked his bank accounts whilst organising a donation to charity.

Joyti De-Laurey
Joyti De-Laurey was trusted by her bosses
When police raided her house they found dozens of unopened boxes of Cartier jewellery and more than 40 designer handbags.

The villa in Cyprus which she dreamed of escaping to remained a dream.

She was arrested only a few days before her planned departure.

'Picasso of con artists'

Her trial was a sensation.

It grabbed headlines around the globe and shone a light on the rarefied and previously secret world of Goldman Sachs.

De-Laurey was described as 'the Picasso of Con Artists'

During the trial, De-Laurey became well known to the journalists who covered the proceedings, chatting to them and even buying them coffees before entering court.

In her defence, De-Laurey tried to claim that her bosses had given her permission to take the money

The jury didn't believe her and found her guilty. The judge said that "lying was woven in the very fabric of her being".

She was sentenced to seven years in prison.

The Secretary Who Stole 4 Million is screened on BBC 2 on Wednesday, 8 June at 9pm.

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