Walker 'did not believe group profits had been manipulated'

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The Independent Online
GEORGE WALKER, the former chairman and chief executive of Brent Walker, told police he could not believe the property-to-leisure group's profits were manipulated, Southwark Crown Court was told yesterday.

During taped interviews it was put to Mr Walker by detectives from the Serious Fraud Office that film sales shown in accounts were 'a fiction'. They suggested: 'What you have done is manipulate your profits at Brent Walker over a period, a number of years, on the basis of non-existent film deals. Brent Walker money goes around in a circle.' Mr Walker replied: 'I don't believe that.'

He said he could not explain why pounds 7m went out of the group, passed through two offshore companies and returned to Brent Walker in a single day. It is alleged this was an example of how company accounts could reflect bogus profits.

Mr Walker told officers he could not give another interpretation of the movement of the cash.

'Because I know the people involved, they are not dishonest people,' he said. 'I cannot come to a different conclusion when you have obviously had a year to come to this conclusion. If I had meetings and documents I could possibly come to a different conclusion, possibly the correct one.'

Mr Walker maintained that before being ousted from his post he had been doing the job of five people and was under tremendous pressure.

He said: 'You have shown me circles of money. I still don't understand them. I am still asking who took the money . . . I would love to know.'

Mr Walker and Brent Walker's former finance director, Wilfred Aquilina, 42, jointly deny conspiracy to falsify accounts, two offences of false accounting and one charge of theft.

Mr Walker alone denies three charges of theft while Mr Acquilina alone denies a charge of false accounting.

The trial continues today.