Bogus peer 'defrauded 1,000 people'

'Lord' Hugh Rodley jailed for eight years after trying to steal £229m from bank
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The Independent Online

A self-styled aristocrat who tried to commit the world's biggest bank theft is also being investigated for two other frauds, one of which is said to involve more than 1,000 victims. Hugh Rodley, 61, who had bought a title and referred to himself as Lord Rodley of Tudor Manor, was jailed for eight years yesterday for leading an international gang of fraudsters and computer hackers which tried to steal £229m from the UK headquarters of the Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui.

Judge Martyn Zeidman QC told Snaresbrook Crown Court about the other investigations, later found to be by the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police. City of London officers are looking into allegations of fraud affecting 1,100 people. Four other people are being investigated as well but it is understood that none of those four was involved with the attempted theft at Sumitomo.

Bernard Davies, aged 74, Rodley's long-term business partner, who was linked to a Met Police inquiry into money laundering, had been due to appear in the dock alongside the bogus lord over the bank scam, but killed himself two days before the trial, after saying he had "lost the will to live". He left a suicide note wishing officers luck with their investigations.

The Sumitomo Mitsui theft attempt involved an inside man at the bank, a security guard called Kevin O'Donoghue, 34, who tampered with the CCTV cameras to allow two Belgian hackers, Giles Poelvoorde, 35, and Jan Van Osselaer, 32, into the building. They used software to steal passwords and tried to transfer money from accounts belonging to companies including Toshiba and Nomura Asset Management, into bank accounts set up by Rodley and David Nash, 47, in the name of "front" companies. But the attempts to transfer the £229m failed when the hackers mis-typed one of the required passwords.

The bogus peer, who likes to wear a bow tie and bowler hat, was described as the chief executive of the theft by the judge. Rodley, born Brian McGough in 1947 in Ireland, changed his name and bought his title after a 30-year life of crime allowed him to live in luxury. He has convictions for theft, deception and trying to pervert the course of justice. He lived in a £2m mansion in Gloucestershire, drove a Rolls-Royce and "worked" from an office in Mayfair.

The judge told him: "I call you Mr Rodley although I know you prefer the title lord. I am told you bought some right to use that grander title but of course you are not a member of the House of Lords. You lived a life of luxury in a mansion with stables and you have given yourself the trappings of wealth and delusions of grandeur."

David Nash, also known as David Coyne, has a long criminal record of deception and drug-dealing. He was jailed for three years and O'Donoghue was sentenced to four years and four months. Poelvoorde, now serving five years for fraud in Belgium, was jailed for four years. Van Osselaer, who has a computer science degree, was jailed for three and a half years.

Rodley even scammed Nash, who ran a sex shop in London's West End, by squandering more than £27,000 on credit and store cards after stealing Nash's identity. He opened an account at Harrods in the name of Nash to buy riding tack as a Christmas present for his daughter, Natasha.