Fashanu caught up in probe

Scotland Yard launches investigation after DTI closes illegal banking operation. Nick Gilbert reports

Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into the tangled business affairs of Delt Securities, an illegal banking operation which has links with John Fashanu, the former football star, Sir William Shelton, a former parliamentary private secretary to Lady Thatcher, Lord Moyne and two titled members of the landowning aristocracy.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, Delt was illegally controlled by David Mahady, a convicted fraudster who is banned from acting as a company director.

After an inquiry by government inspectors, the DTI obtained court approval to close Delt on Friday "in the public interest."

In ordering the company to be closed, the Honourable Justice Vinelott said in the High Court: "We had best get rid of this company as soon as possible and get somebody in the saddle to conduct an investigation."

The Metropolitan Police confirmed this weekend that they had already started looking into Delt. "We recently received a complaint from a victim of the company and we are investigating," said Detective Inspector Peter Savage of the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad.

Mr Mahady was earlier linked with the collapse of Access to Justice, a company whose directors were Lord Moyne, who is Jonathan Guinness of the brewing dynasty, Sir William Shelton, and Suffolk landowner Sir Charles Blois, who claims to have lost well over pounds 500,000 lending to Delt and Access.

A fourth director was Michael Wynne-Parker, a well-connected figure whose contacts range from King Hussein of Jordan to Asil Nadir, the fugitive businessman. Mr Wynne-Parker used to run his own financial firm but that was shut down by regulator Fimbra 1990 after admitting charges of misconduct.

Access to Justice, operating from the same office block in central London as Delt, was a singular enterprise, combining the provision of free legal advice with an attempt to make money from renting out offices in the building to a motley collection of businessmen. Its own rent was very low and, by improperly claiming charitable status, Access also gained from a huge rates subsidy from Camden Council.

Mr Mahady and Delt, which the DTI said "carried on an unauthorised deposit taking" and lending business at usurious rates of interest, played a role in a variety of bizarre transactions.

These included the purchase of two showjumping horses, called Some Day and Affirmative, by Princess Haya, a daughter of King Hussein of Jordan,

who hopes to represent her country in the Sydney Olympics.

Sir Charles Blois apparently agreed to lend Princess Haya pounds 275,000 in a short-term loan but the advance was channelled through Delt. The Princess repaid the money to Delt and paid a pounds 15,000 fee, which was to be shared by Delt and Sir Charles. According to DTI evidence, the fee represented "an interest rate of 142 per cent per annum." Sir Charles, who supported the application to wind up Delt, is claiming a total of over pounds 300,000 from Delt.

He and Delt also lent money to BGH Group, a now defunct Birmingham company making 12 gauge pump-action shot guns whose shareholders included the Duke of Marlborough, his son Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, and Sir Mark Weinberg, the City multi-millionaire insurance tycoon. None of the three returned telephone calls.

The company, run by design engineer Roland Whiting, hoped to tap Mr Wynne- Parker's African connections to sell guns to Sierra Leone. It went into liquidation earlier this year owing over pounds 1.5m after Mr Whiting failed to complete a multi-million pound deal to buy Webley & Scott from David Pickering, owner of the renowned air-rifle manufacturer.

Mr Whiting was, says Pickering, advised by Lindsay Smallbone, another in the circle surrounding Lord Moyne. Mr Whiting refused to discuss the affair last week. "I was just a technical director that's all and it was all a long time ago," he said. BGH went into liquidation in July. Mr Whiting, along with Lord Spencer-Churchill, was one of four main board directors and the largest shareholder.

Until recently, Lord Moyne was chairman and Mr Smallbone chief executive of Trustor, the Stockholm investment company whose affairs are under scrutiny by Swedish authorities and the Serious Fraud Office.

"I have co-operated with them fully and explanations have been given," said Mr Smallbone. He says he never received anything from Trustor beyond "what was agreed for legitimate reasons in connection with my employment with Trustor."

Mr Wynne-Parker said: "I never received a single penny from Trustor." He was paid "a small fee and a monthly retainer" by Lord Moyne's UK company, Guinness Management. He said this was his reward for helping Lord Moyne get a favourable lease on a suite of luxurious offices in Berkeley Square.

Government inspectors, who conducted a secret inquiry into both Access and Delt earlier this year, uncovered a remarkable series of deals in which prominent people lent money to or borrowed from Delt. The police and the Official Receiver will be investigating the nature of these transactions.

Sir William Shelton and Lady Shelton both lent money to Delt in 1995 and 1996 and were to receive payments equal to interest rates of over 100 per cent a year. Delt made some payments but never repaid their capital.

As well as receiving money from Sir Charles Blois, Delt took in money from Mr Fashanu and from Mr Smallbone. "My money was misappropriated as it was supposed to go into Introcom," said Mr Smallbone. Introcom, a company that introduces businessmen to influential politicians, was planning to expand from the UK to Jordan at the time. Its directors included Lord Moyne.

Mr Fashanu, the multimillionaire former England player, was acquitted in August of fixing football matches after a trial in which it emerged that he had received huge sums which had been diverted into various bank accounts.

According to the DTI, Delt took in just under pounds 2,500 and pounds 1,659 from Mr Fashanu in 1995 and then turned round and lent most of the money to "a nightclub called Blue Orchid".

In what the DTI called its "unlicensed lending" activities, Delt made 14 separate loans to Mr Wynne-Parker totalling over pounds 100,000 at annual interest rates that on one deal were scheduled to hit 800 per cent. " I was happy to avail myself of money on reasonable terms," said Mr Wynne- Parker.

Lord Moyne also received loans from Delt as did Scottish landowner, the Marquis of Ailsa.

Copyright: IOS & Bloomberg

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