City secretary guilty of £4.5m fraud

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The Independent Online

Top City PA Joyti De-Laurey was today found guilty of fleecing her bosses of nearly £4.5 million.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court in London convicted De-Laurey of four counts of using a false instrument and 16 counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception. The total of value of her fraud was £4,303,259.

The panel had been considering its verdicts since last Wednesday afternoon.

De-Laurey, 35, of London Road, North Cheam, Surrey, denied the charges.

The prosecution alleged that she forged her bosses' signatures on cheques and cash transfer authorities to raid their savings secretly and embark on a string of spending sprees.

De-Laurey's husband Anthony, a 50-year-old former chauffeur, was convicted by the same jury of four counts of money laundering but cleared of four other related charges.

The defendant's mother, Dr Devi Schahhou, a 68-year-old GP of King Henry's Road, Hampstead, north west London. was convicted of four counts of money laundering and cleared of one count.

De-Laurey, who was convicted by a majority of 11-1 on each count, was guilty of fraud on a "massive scale" and went on what the prosecution described as "astonishing" spending sprees.

She led a life of luxury after stealing from a succession of leading bankers, betraying their trust over the years and indulging in a prolonged shopping spree that included Cartier jewellery, expensive cars and a £750,000 Mediterranean villa as well as other properties.

She even wrote "bizarre" letters to God, apparently asking for divine intervention to help her escape detection by multi-millionaire financier Edward Scott Mead and other victims.

In one heaven-bound plea, the jury was told the mother of one begged for "protection" and for her relationship with her employers - blue chip investment bank Goldman Sachs - to survive "untarnished".

"Please look after me and keep my family safe and happy and without money worries," she was said to have written.

In another "Dear God" missive discovered in her office following her arrest, she prayed: "I need one more helping of what's mine upon my return and then I must cut down and cease in time all the plundering."

She went on: "Please ensure my job is safe and my integrity is unquestioned on my return ... and that these remain secure throughout."

Sentencing was due later today.