Trial told how Jaguar was swindled by its PR bosses

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The Independent Online
Jaguar Cars was systematically cheated out of hundreds of thousands of pounds in a four-year conspiracy involving two of its own publicity managers, a court was told yesterday.

"Trusted" managers Roger Fielding, 43, and Ronald Parker, 61, took big bribes from Reynard Platt, 51, in return for fraudulent contracts, said David Bate QC, prosecuting at Snaresbrook Crown Court, London.

Messrs Fielding, Parker and Platt have admitted conspiracy to commit corruption. A fourth defendant, Roger Kennedy, 51, is alone in the dock, denying conspiracy to defraud Jaguar.

Mr Bate said Jaguar first had to be defrauded to provide the "engine and the driving force for the bribes".

Mr Kennedy and his west London-based firm, Nova Arts Ltd, are accused of acting as a money-launderer for Mr Platt, who was the company director of Facilities Group, a subsidiary of the advertising giant Saatchi and Saatchi. Mr Platt also headed Number 32, which did all type-setting and translation work for Jaguar in respect of their luxury cars.

The jury was told Mr Platt also had corrupt dealings with another man, the fifth defendant, Stephen Williams, 41, whose type-setting firm, H & J Graphics, was also involved.

Mr Bate said that from 1987 to 1991, "two of their trusted senior employees were systematically defrauding Jaguar on a large scale". He said Mr Fielding and Mr Parker ensured contracts for translation of Jaguar publications went to Mr Platt and Mr Kennedy and others and used false invoices to overcharge the company. Mr Bate said once it paid, "large sums of money were then paid by way of bribes to Fielding and Parker and then the whole system would be repeated".

The prosecution claims Mr Kennedy created false bills for non-existent work and the money paid to the Nova account would be siphoned off by Mr Platt for more bribes and to maintain a lifestyle which included horse- owning. "Kennedy was providing clean money. He was providing money that could not be directly related to Jaguar and what was going on," Mr Bate said, explaining that he could not put a precise figure on the "enormous" scheme. In the four years it operated, Mr Fielding received pounds 334,777, mostly in bribes, in addition to his Jaguar salary of pounds 105,215.

Mr Kennedy, of Edenbridge, Kent, denies conspiracy to defraud Jaguar and a further charge of conspiracy to commit false accounting. Mr Fielding, of Evesham, Worcestershire and Mr Parker, of Coventry, have admitted conspiracy to commit corruption. Mr Platt, of South Beaconsfield, Bucks, admits conspiracy to commit corruption. Mr Williams, of Teddington, south London, admits conspiracy to defraud Jaguar and conspiracy to commit corruption. Mr Kennedy's trial is expected to last up to two weeks, after which the other defendants will be sentenced. The trial was adjourned to tomorrow.