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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 June, 2005, 08:08 GMT 09:08 UK
Litany of expensive fraud trials
A number of lengthy, expensive fraud trials over the years have prompted the demands for them to be heard without a jury.

1992 BLUE ARROW - ESTIMATED COST 40m
The Blue Arrow case was claimed in 1992 to have been the second longest criminal trial in English history.

The case centred on the takeover of employment agency Manpower by Blue Arrow, then the biggest in the world. It was alleged that there had been an effort to rig the price of Blue Arrow shares.

Out of 14 defendants, four were convicted by a jury and all were subsequently cleared on appeal.

Mr Justice Brooke said the affair illustrated the need for judges to use computers, and half-joked that there should be an electronic clock behind the bench showing the mounting cost of fraud trials.

1994 BRENT WALKER - ESTIMATED COST 40m

The Brent Walker fraud trial set a new high water mark in costs and complexity.

Former boxer George Walker, who had developed the Brent Cross retail complex in London, was accused of inflating profits at the film division of his empire by 19.3m in an effort to lure investors.

He was cleared of all charges; his former finance director Wilfred Aquilina was convicted over one charge of false accounting.

The trial had lasted four and a half months, with the jury taking seven days of deliberation at the end before returning majority verdicts.

Mr Walker had spent 12 days giving evidence, and the judge took six days to sum up the evidence.

Aquilina, the former finance director convicted of false accounting, was eventually sentenced to 18 months imprisonment suspended for two years and fined 25,000, causing him to be led sobbing from the court.

1990-1993 GUINNESS - ESTIMATED COST 30m

The saga of the Guinness fraud case ended in February 1993 with the acquittal of Thomas Ward for theft.

In an earlier trial in 1990 Ernest Saunders, Gerald Ronson and Jack Lyons as well as stockbroker Anthony Parnes were all convicted.

The case centred on allegations that illegal efforts had been made to support the price of Guinness shares to help the takeover of the Distillers group.

A second trial saw the acquittal of Roger Seelig and Lord Spens, with charges against David Mayhew, a takeover consultant, never making it to trial.

The judge in Mr Ward's trial suggested the defence as well as the prosecution should be obliged to disclose their case at the beginning of the trial.

1995-1996 MAXWELLS - ESTIMATED COST 20-30m

The pursuit of the Maxwell brothers by the Serious Fraud Office ended in September 1996 with the calling off of a second trial for Kevin Maxwell, and three other defendants.

Kevin and Ian Maxwell, both sons of disgraced publishing mogul Robert Maxwell, had been acquitted at an earlier trial of conspiring to defraud.

There had been outrage when news of the multi-billion fraud initiated by Robert Maxwell emerged. Pension savings had been pilfered to prop up his ailing empire.

And the outcome of the legal process again led for calls for an overhaul of the SFO, although many newspaper editorials noted that they had learnt the lessons of previous trials.




SEE ALSO:
60m fraud case collapse probed
23 Mar 05 |  London


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