Page last updated at 19:58 GMT, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Men guilty of 229m banking plot

Lord Hugh Rodley
"Lord" Hugh Rodley lived in a Tudor manor in Gloucestershire

Two men who plotted to steal 229m from a bank using software have been found guilty for their roles in the scam.

"Lord" Hugh Rodley, of Gloucestershire, who bought his title, was convicted of conspiracy charges dating back to 2004.

Gang members had installed spyware on computers at the London offices of Sumitomo Mitsui bank in order to steal money from big business accounts.

Soho sex shop owner David Nash, 47, from Durrington, West Sussex, was also convicted at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

He had been used by Rodley to front accounts into which the funds would have been channelled, the trial heard.

Rodley, who lived in a Tudor mansion in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, teamed up with a gang of internet thieves to target the Japanese bank.

The "bold and sophisticated" plot was only foiled at the 11th hour by the complexities of inter-bank money transfers, the court heard.

Bank security supervisor Kevin O'Donoghue, 34, unlocked the Japanese bank's London offices so the gang could make "surreptitious" visits at night, the jury was told.

Hugh Rodley, 61, of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, guilty of conspiracies to defraud and to transfer criminal property
David Nash, 47, from Durrington, West Sussex, guilty of conspiracy to transfer criminal property
Kevin O'Donoghue, 34, of Minstead Road, Birmingham, admitted conspiracy to steal
Jan Van Osselaer, 32, of Belgium, admitted conspiracy to steal
Gilles Poelvoorde, 35, of Belgium, admitted conspiracy to steal

He also tampered with CCTV equipment in a bid to avoid the presence of two men - Belgian computer expert Jan Van Osselaer, 32, and his "recruiter", Frenchman Gilles Poelvoorde, 35 - being caught on camera.

The duo then used software to corrupt the bank's computer system, record the keystrokes of staff and reveal user names and passwords, jurors were told.

That gave them access to the holdings of major companies like Toshiba International, Nomura Asset Management and Sumitomo Chemical UK.

They made several attempts to electronically transfer up to 12.5m at a time around the world, but were unsuccessful because of "field logging errors".

The plot was discovered when staff returned to work after the weekend and realised their computers were not working properly.

Then they found a number of network cables had been "taken out".

Woman cleared

Rodley, 61, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to transfer criminal property between 1 January and 5 October 2004.

Nash was cleared of that first same charge but convicted of the second same charge.

Swedish national Inger Malmros, 58, who lives in Gran Canaria, was cleared of both counts.

She had told the court she knew nothing of two instructions - allegedly from her firm - concerning the planned transfer of some of Sumitomo's cash.

O'Donoghue and the Belgian-based hackers will be sentenced alongside Rodley and Nash on Thursday.

A seventh defendant, Rodley's 74-year-old business partner Bernard Davies, committed suicide two days before the trial began.

'Lost will to live'

A note was read to the court in which he said he had "lost the will to live" after receiving death threats from an underworld figure because he would not reveal Rodley's and Nash's whereabouts.

Rodley did not give evidence during the trial, relying on his barrister to defend him against Nash's claims he was "the architect of all this".

But the sex shop owner went into the witness box to deny any knowledge of the bank theft plot, insisting: "I was just the driver, the security, working on a need-to-know basis."

Sumitomo Mitsui said in a statement that its systems and controls had prevented the fraud's success and that at no point were customer accounts at risk.

"Following the fraud attempt, we conducted a full review of our internal procedures and have subsequently continued to enhance them further," it added.

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