Brent Walker man `paid pounds 500,000 for hiding false profits'

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The Independent Online
A Brent Walker executive was paid a pounds 500,000 "reward" for orchestrating a "massive cover-up" of millions of pounds of false profits in the company's leisure and entertainment empire, a court heard yesterday.

Auditors, solicitors and investigators were lied to, and fictitious documents created to back up the falsehoods, it was claimed. Money was laundered through a "tortuous" route involving America and the Bahamas, Southwark Crown Court was told.

The exercise even included appointing a dead man to head a company, said Peter Rook QC, prosecuting.

Architect of the cover-up was Donald Anderson, a former finance director of Brent Walker's film and television arm, Goldcrest, he claimed. Mr Rook told the jury they would see that, figuratively speaking, the 43-year- old chartered accountant's fingerprints were all over the concealment operation.

Mr Anderson, of Tudor Lodge, The Green, Richmond, Surrey, denies one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice between 1 August 1988 and 23 October 1990.

Mr Rook said Mr Anderson, who joined Brent Walker in 1987 and allegedly took part in the later stages of the false profit taking, "played a key role as architect of the cover-up".

"Time and time again, when one looks carefully at the evidence, we find documents in relation to the cover-up which have strong links to Mr Anderson," Mr Rook said.

They included a "blueprint" of the operation on his computer at Goldcrest. Two schedules in his handwriting were recovered and shed light on his involvement in the alleged laundering of pounds 12.5m of Brent Walker money, Mr Rook said.

Mr Rook said an article published in The Independent said a Jersey-based offshore company, Universal Talent Management, was involved in the false profit-taking.

It was controlled by Brent Walker executive John Quested, but after the publicity it was moved to the Bahamas and a false "cover story" put forward that it was headed by a man called John Love. "Why was John Love chosen? Because he was dead ... a convenient person to be put forward because he would not be around to answer questions," Mr Rook said.

The Inland Revenue launched an inquiry into Brent Walker's finances, and by December 1988 the Serious Fraud Office was conducting an investigation. Mr Anderson allegedly "kept them at bay" by channelling further falsehoods through the accountants and Brent Walker's solicitors. Eventually, the SFO called off its investigation and Anderson was "well rewarded", Mr Rook said.

The trial continues today.

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