[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 17:34 GMT
Victory for 'IOU fraud' victims
Graham Price arriving in court for sentence on Monday
Graham Price spent much of the stolen money on gambling
The victims of a fraud carried out by a financial consultant who stole 10m are to have their money back by Christmas.

The Halifax bank has said it will "put right the wrongs" of Graham Price, 58, of Swansea, who was jailed for 12 years for theft earlier this month.

The bank said 84 investors would have their money back plus 5% interest.

Price acted as an agent for the Halifax. He had left an IOU note in a safe for 7m. His victims said the bank's announcement was "fantastic".

Cash audit

Price, of Llansamlet, Swansea, was jailed at Swansea Crown Court after admitting 43 charges of theft and asked for 263 offences to be taken into account.

Price stole around 3.3m from investors and 7m from the Halifax bank - for whom he operated an agency in Gowerton, near Swansea - over a four-year period.

He promised small investors large returns on their investments and made fraudulent payments into their bank accounts to make them believe they were receiving it.

Jennifer Ellis and victims outside court
Jennifer Ellis (centre) said she would celebrate with champagne

Price was caught out when an unannounced cash audit was carried out in November 2004.

A Halifax auditor found only three empty boxes and a scrap of paper in the agency safe.

The IOU note left by Price said: "I have borrowed 7m from the Halifax'".

He spent much of the stolen money on gambling, including more than 1m on racing tipsters.

Price also owned or jointly owned 13 racehorses, including one called Cart Diamond, on which he spent 69,000.

Victims' campaign

He had bought two Mercedes cars for a total of 71,000, invested 500,000 in a share portfolio and had put more than 100,000 into premium bonds for himself, his wife, son and daughter.

A campaign was set up by some of Price's victims calling for the Halifax to meet the losses they had suffered.

The Halifax originally said it was not responsible for those who had invested with Price in his personal capacity, adding that the bank was itself a victim of his theft.

But on Tuesday, the Halifax announced that it would "ensure that investors are put back in the position they were prior to their investing with Price".

The bank added that investors would also receive 5% interest on their original investment for the time they had money invested with Price.

'Right the wrong'

A statement said: "The group wants to end the stress experienced by investors as a consequence of Price's fraudulent actions.

"Halifax...is now in a position to write to the investors believed to have been defrauded and to put right the wrong done by Price."

The bank said it hoped all payments would be made by Christmas.

Price victim Jennifer Ellis, who lost 120,000, told BBC Wales she was delighted at the outcome.

She added: "I'm absolutely delighted and astounded.

"It's fantastic news - whoever I told has burst into tears.

"I can assure you that the champagne corks will be popping."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See how victims of the 10m fraud have reacted



SEE ALSO:
Gambling 'IOU bank thief' jailed
08 Nov 05 |  South West Wales
IOU thief spent 1m on race tips
07 Nov 05 |  South West Wales
Bank thief left 7m IOU in safe
04 Oct 05 |  South West Wales
Boss faces 5m bank scam charges
13 Sep 05 |  South West Wales


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific