Walker had 'signed papers without close examination'

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The Independent Online
GEORGE Walker, the leisure and property tycoon, signed hundreds of documents a week without examining the detail of the deals, a court heard yesterday.

Earlier in the trial prosecution witnesses said Mr Walker, 65, was a hands-on manager. But in interviews with detectives, read out to the court yesterday, the former chairman and chief executive said he would sign papers without closely scrutinising them.

The court at Chichester Rents in London heard that, when interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office following the collapse of his group, Mr Walker said he trusted fellow group executives.

He agreed that his signature was needed to make payments of more than pounds 50,000. His interviews were being read to the jury in the third month of the fraud trial.

It is alleged that Mr Walker and Wilfred Aquilina, 42, former group finance directer, dishonestly inflated Brent Walker's profits through a series of bogus deals. The prosecution alleges that money was secretly taken out of the group, laundered through international accounts and returned as 'sham income'.

Mr Walker and Mr Aquilina deny charges of false accounting, theft and conspiracy. The trial continues.