Fraud solicitor jailed

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A solicitor whose international pounds 13m swindle defrauded the cooker company Belling and some of Europe's largest firms was jailed for nine years yesterday.

Charles Deacon, 53, a former under-sheriff of Stafford, and a former nuts and bolts salesman, James Fuller, 56, who received a seven-year sentence, spun tales of MI5 and the CIA to extract cash through a bogus money-lending scheme.

Passing sentence at Middlesex Crown Court, central London, Judge Fabian Evans QC told the two men: "The sums of money involved in this case have been quite staggering and have been matched only by the enormity of the lies which you both told."

Apart from Belling, which plundered its pension fund of more than pounds 2.3m to qualify for a "loan" and in the process left many of its former employees facing the prospect of reduced pensions, other companies targeted included Russia's largest co-operative and Finland's biggest food processing company.