Walker 'used dead associate's name'

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The Independent Online
GEORGE Walker, former chairman of Brent Walker, fabricated documents in the name of a dead business associate to help hide a massive fraud, a jury heard, writes Russell Hotten.

The false papers were first used to deceive Brent Walker's joint auditors, KPMG Peat Marwick, and later the Inland Revenue and Serious Fraud Office, which had begun investigating the group.

Peter Rook QC, prosecuting, said Mr Walker and the former finance director, Wilfred Aquilina, created a string of bogus film and television deals to book 'phantom profits' in the accounts.

They claimed the dead man, John Love, was behind a supposedly independent firm, Universal Talent Management, that arranged film rights sales. But Mr Rook said UTM was a front company Mr Walker and his co-conspirators used for fictitious transactions. Mr Love, who had run a Bahamian-based family trust for the Walker family, had nothing to do with the deals.

Mr Rook was speaking at Southwark Crown Court on the second day of the trial of Mr Walker, 65, and Mr Aquilina, 41, who deny charges of theft, false accounting and conspiracy. Mr Walker is alleged to have stolen pounds 17m.

Mr Rook said the inflated profits were used to give the impression that Brent Walker was a picture of health.

But Mr Rook said that in 1988 an Independent newspaper investigation had 'questioned the good faith and commerciality' of two of the bogus transactions. There followed a cover-up campaign involving the falsification of documents and movement of monies through a series of accounts.

As part of a smokescreen to conceal the true nature of Brent Walker's finances the defendants produced documents bearing Mr Love's name, dated 1987.

But Mr Rook said the prosecution would be calling witnesses to prove these documents were created after his death in 1988.

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