Sting 'said yes to tax cash loan'

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The Independent Online
The rock superstar Sting's former accountant insisted yesterday that he had never invested any of the wealthy performer's millions for his "own interests".

Keith Moore, 51, is accused of stealing pounds 6m from the former lead singer of the Police. The Crown has alleged that the cash was ploughed into a series of largely unsuccessful ventures including an international chain of Indian restaurants, and the conversion of Russian military aircraft into passenger carrying "super Jumbos".

Questioned by his counsel, Nicholas Purnell QC, Mr Moore told the jury at Southwark Crown Court that it was his philosophy to encourage artists in a "hands-on" approach to business, but Sting had, he said, a "short attention span". He added: "The responsibility fell upon me for everything. Anonymity was of concern to Sting. He did not like the idea of pressure by people on him personally."

Moore said the performer also did not like publicity attached to his investments. "Artists of his stature want to be associated with success. They don't want to be associated with the somewhat rocky path up to the creation of success."

He told the jury that it was a relief to share the burden of the failed business ventures in a confrontation in 1992 with Sting's managers and solicitor.

"I had been bearing the burden... of the continuing problems of recovery of the money. It was some relief to share my burden with other people. It was my responsibility because I made the investments."

Moore was also questioned about his use of some of the star's money to pay a tax demand for pounds 691,000, and thus avoid bankruptcy in the process.

He explained that the matter first arose during a discussion at Sting's country mansion in Wiltshire. He had told the performer that he believed Sting could recoup some $10m from his record company, A&M Records, as a result of underpayment of royalties in previous years.

"His response was that if that is right there was a 'big fee for your part'," said Mr Moore. "I took that opportunity... to tell him that I was in extreme difficulties with the Inland Revenue and asked for an advance against the fee."

He quoted Sting as saying that that was probably "OK" and that Mr Moore should write to him.

The accountant said he faxed a letter to Sting's Californian home in Malibu and shortly afterwards had faxed back to him a signed letter of authority allowing the sum to be drawn on one of the singer's accounts with bankers Coutts and Co.

Sting has told the court he believed the letter of authority was related to his own affairs.

Mr Moore, of Fulham, south-west London, denies 15 sample charges of theft from Sting between August 1988 and July 1992.

The trial was adjourned until today.