Ward payment 'was properly agreed fee'

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The Independent Online
THOMAS WARD, the former Guinness director accused of stealing pounds 5.2m from the company, claimed that a payment made to him for that amount was a fee 'properly agreed and properly earned', a court at the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

Mr Ward was a principal adviser to Ernest Saunders, former chief executive of Guinness, during the takeover bid for Distillers in 1986. He is charged with theft, false accounting and procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception, but insists the payment was a success fee.

Michael Dee, a company administrator in Jersey who dealt with Mr Ward's company, Marketing and Acquisitions Consultants, said he had been asked by Mr Ward to submit a pounds 5.2m invoice to Guinness for payment.

'He said this invoice was principally for his services but also for one or two third parties,' Mr Dee told Andrew Trollope QC, for the defence. He said the same explanation was given during a subsequent conversation with William Dwyer, Mr Ward's lawyer.

The phrasing of the invoice had been suggested by Mr Ward but Mr Dee agreed with the defence that it appeared a 'perfectly proper transaction' and there was nothing unusual in the wording.

The court also heard that in February 1987 Mr Dee approached the regulators of company administration in the Channel Islands, after being warned by Mr Ward of possible 'high profile litigation' brought by Guinness.

'So they knew perhaps there was a storm brewing about a large sum of money?' Mr Trollope asked. 'Exactly,' Mr Dee replied. He said he understood at all times that Mr Ward would vigorously dispute any legal action.

The trial continues today.