A Royal Mint manager awarded an OBE for distinguished services wept as he was cleared of stealing from his employers.
Hector Williamson had a 33-year career with the Royal Mint
Hector Williamson, of Tooting, south-west London, was accused of striking a secret deal with the head of an African bank in a commission scam.
But after telling Southwark Crown Court an unaccountable £18,250 was money owed or to be passed on to others, he was cleared of conspiracy to defraud.
"It has been a 21-month nightmare," Mr Williamson said afterwards.
"I have lost over a stone in weight because I haven't been able to sleep or eat.
"In fact this has all been so distressing last September I wandered out in front of a car, was knocked down and broke my ankle."
Mr Williamson who retired five years ago after a 33-year career at the Royal Mint, said he had repeatedly endured scorn from his neighbours.
"They were saying here is a man who was awarded the OBE and held his head up high who is stealing money from his employers."
He said he had simply been made a scapegoat after one of the Royal Mint's subcontractors - who had lost out on business - launched a civil action against the Mint and accused staff of bribing overseas bank officials to win business.
Douglas Day QC, prosecuting, said Mr Williamson had struck a secret deal with the general manager of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Junking Bayo, to split £38,000 in commission.
But Mr Williamson explained that most of the money given to him was promptly handed over to another Gambian bank official - the rest was for a solicitor's clerk, Mr Bayo's daughters' school fees and living expenses.