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UK: Secretary Stole From Goldman Bankers

by Nikki TaitNew York Times
April 20th, 2004

A former personal assistant to top Goldman Sachs bankers in London was behind bars on Tuesday night after being found guilty of stealing 4.4m from the personal accounts of her boss Scott Mead and two other bankers.

The verdict against Joyti De-Laurey ends a four month trial that illuminated the gulf between the frenetic but richly-rewarded lifestyles of investment bankers and their support staff.

During the trial, the jury heard how Mrs De-Laurey, 35, had forged cheques and money transfers over two-years, first while she worked for Jennifer Moses - who was married to Ron Beller, another Goldman Sachs banker - and then for Mr Mead.

He had negotiated some of the biggest telecoms transactions in the 1990s, and said he had discovered the thefts when he went to make a charitable donation to a university foundation. But Mrs De-Laurey claimed that he had known about the transfers all along. One reason, she suggested, was her discretion over an extra-marital affair Mr Mead was having with a lawyer who worked at a nearby City law firm.

Mr Mead, who received shares worth almost 50m when Goldman went public, dismissed suggestions that he let Mrs De-Laurey draw on his funds as "absolutely repulsive", and denied ever discussing the state of his marriage with the PA.

"I made a big mistake. I begged forgiveness from my wife. She has been great to me beyond belief," the father of five said.

On Tuesday Mr Mead accused his former PA of mounting "a vindictive and implausible defence".

The banker, who left Goldman last year, said: "She has . . . through the case and using personal documents she admitted in court to stealing, dragged my name and that of many others through the mud."

There was no dispute, however, over Mrs De-Laurey's spending - which ranged from properties in Cyprus, fast cars and a powerboat, to hundreds of thousands of pounds-worth of Cartier jewellery. Prosecutors say that considerable sums are still unaccounted for. They claimed the PA - who never earned more than 38,000 even after bonuses and perks - wanted to ape the lifestyle of the bankers she worked for.

After four days of deliberation, a jury at Southwark Crown Court found Mrs De-Laurey guilty on 20 counts of using false instruments - forged cheques - or obtaining money transfers by deception. On all counts, the verdict was by an 11-1 majority.

Her husband and mother were also convicted of offences relating to the fraud. They got conditional bail, but Judge Christopher Elwen said Mrs De-Laurey's conduct had been "so dishonest" that immediate custody was more appropriate. All three will be sentenced in June.





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