Walker denies 5m pounds consultancy fee was bogus payment

GEORGE WALKER, the former chairman and chief executive of Brent Walker, yesterday denied that a pounds 5m consultancy fee he negotiated for a Paris-based businessman was a smokescreen designed to hide theft.

Mr Walker told Southwark Crown Court that 'tremendous' deals which Michael Eland brought the group in the 1980s had earned him every penny. It was a genuine payment that had helped the leisure group to reap large profits.

'He did services for Brent Walker at a very cheap rate. Any professional body that had done the same amount of work would have asked double the money,' Mr Walker said in answer to his counsel, Colin Nicholls QC.

The court heard that the fee was mainly for Mr Eland's work concerning a leisure and residential complex at Le Touquet, France, and a development in the US. The American project involved the purchase of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and its proposed conversion into a development similar to London's Trocadero centre.

Mr Walker said he was personally involved in the French development, using Mr Eland's services for a concept aimed at bringing pounds 100m in profit. The purchase of property and his own designs in 1987 came as the Channel Tunnel project was going ahead. He said the complex, including hotels, second homes, a casino and three golf courses, would become a tremendous attraction just two and a half hours' drive from London.

Referring to the US deal, introduced to him by Mr Eland, Mr Walker said his consortium moved quickly to beat Donald Trump to the site, 'which annoyed him enormously but gave us great pleasure'. A holding in that venture was later sold to Mr Trump to give the Americans an acceptable front name.

Mr Walker said the commission Mr Eland received reflected his work on the deals as well as his help with a couple of smaller ones. All of Brent Walker's directors were told about the fee, he added.

The prosecution has alleged the 65-year-old businessman stole pounds 17m from his leisure empire during a six-year fraud operation. Peter Rook QC, prosecuting, has claimed that the pounds 5m payment was part of a smokescreen Mr Walker later helped to create to try to hide his dishonesty.

A letter confirming Mr Eland had received the money was 'fictional', it was alleged.

Mr Walker and Wilfred Aquilina, Brent Walker's former finance director, have pleaded not guilty to two joint charges of false accounting, one of theft and one of conspiracy to falsify accounts. Mr Walker is separately accused of three theft offences and Mr Aquilina of one of false accounting.

The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Jemma Gent: Project Coordinator

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Jemma Gent: In this role you will report to the Head of...

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable