Goldman Sachs secretary sentenced to seven years in jail

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The Independent Online

A city secretary who stole nearly £4.5m from her bosses at the investment bank Goldman Sachs in an attempt to mimic their luxurious lifestyles was jailed for seven years yesterday.

A city secretary who stole nearly £4.5m from her bosses at the investment bank Goldman Sachs in an attempt to mimic their luxurious lifestyles was jailed for seven years yesterday.

Joyti De-Laurey, who also stole £16,000 from her mother during her trial, was described by the judge as "duplicitous, deceitful and thoroughly dishonest". Judge Christopher Elwen told her at Southwark Crown Court that it was clear "lying is woven into the fabric of your being".

De-Laurey, 35, from North Cheam, Surrey, deceived her bosses as part of an elaborate two-year plot that ranged from forging personal cheques to pretending that she was receiving treatment for cancer when she was on holiday in Beverly Hills.

At the time of her arrest, she was preparing to leave the UK to start a new life in Cyprus, where she had bought a seafront villa worth £750,000.

Police discovered she had used the money to purchase luxury goods, including 11 UK properties, £300,000 worth of Cartier jewellery and a car.

Her husband, Anthony, 51, and her elderly mother, Devi Schahhou, 68, had helped process some of the money stolen from the bank.

De-Laurey was found guilty at an earlier hearing of 20 charges of fraud, including 16 counts of obtaining money transfer by deception.

Her husband was also found guilty of four counts of assisting the retention of the proceeds of criminal conduct and jailed for 18 months.

Schahhou, a GP from Hampstead, north-west London, was convicted of the same four money-laundering offences and given a six-month sentence suspended for two years.

De-Laurey claimed that she had been given millions of pounds by Scott Mead, 49, the managing director, for allegedly covering up an affair with a solicitor.

Mr Mead said yesterday: "She will now be known as a liar and a thief. She violated and abused many people's trust. She deepened her deceit with a despicable lie ... that she had terminal cancer."

During the three-month trial, the court heard how De-Laurey had been working at the bank for two years when she began her illegal activities.

As PA to Jennifer Moses, a managing director, she started to siphon money by signing personal cheques on behalf of her employer. She also fraudulently wrote cheques on behalf of Ron Beller, a managing director who was married to Ms Moses, stealing £1.1m. When De-Laurey began working as PA to Mr Mead, she authorised transfers worth £3.4m from his accounts into hers.

Following her arrest in May 2002, police discovered notes in her office, one of which read: "Dear God ... Please protect me. I need one more helping of what's mine ... and then I must cut down and cease in time all the plundering."

A provisional date of 18 October has been set for a confiscation hearing.