PA 'threatened boss when questioned on missing £3m'

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The Independent Online

A former partner in the investment bank Goldman Sachs told a court yesterday he was "crudely threatened" by his secretary after finding she had taken £3.3m from his savings.

Edward Scott Mead, who was also managing director at the bank, said he was left "betrayed, angry and disgusted" by the woman he once trusted.

Mr Mead, who believed that Joyti De-Laurey was dying of cervical cancer when he agreed to have her work for him, said that he received a shock when he confronted her about the missing money.

"She told me, 'I would hate for this to get dirty'," Mr Mead said. "I was shocked frankly as to what that meant. It was obviously some form of crude threat."

Ms De-Laurey, 35, of North Cheam, Surrey, denies 21 charges of obtaining money by deception and using "false instruments" between 27 June 2000 and 26 April 2002. Her husband, Anthony, a 50-year-old former chauffeur, and her mother, Dr Devi Schahhou, 67, a GP, deny associated money- laundering charges.

Southwark Crown Court in London heard that the PA targeted Mr Mead after pocketing more than £1m from Ron Beller and Jennifer Moses, the husband and wife team he replaced at the bank in April 2001.

Mr Mead said he discovered large amounts of money had disappeared from his Goldman Sachs investment accounts when he rang New York to check the balance of a particular account. He said he was about to make a charitable donation to his college for his 25th reunion when he discovered money missing. Mr Mead recalled he said to Ms De-Laurey: "Last night I discovered a number of unauthorised transfers that I know nothing about. Can you please explain to me what's going on?"

He told the court: "As I was discussing that, she was nodding her head essentially in agreement. She made no attempt to deny this at all and was quite resigned and accepting of what I was saying. I was in shock."

Ms De-Laurey then asked Mr Mead for a private meeting and allegedly told him she could "get £500,000 back today".

"She said that getting the rest back would take a few weeks but she was very very keen to return the money," Mr Mead said. He told her the police had been called and the matter was in their hands and that of Goldman Sachs investigators. This was when she allegedly said: "I would hate for this to get dirty."

Mr Mead, who had given Ms De-Laurey a pay rise during the year she worked for him, said she had been interested in looking after his personal finances.

"She did actually a number of times ask to get involved in our domestic finances,asking to have personal checking accounts be sent to her in the office," Mr Mead said. "My wife and I declined to give her authority for that although she was very persistent." The court has heard Ms De-Laurey spent some of the money on jewellery, clothes, cars and a villa in Cyprus. The trial continues.