ANTONIO HORTY NOSORIO has a very selective memory. He claims he didn’t know about the criminality in HBOS before the trial at Southwark.Even his own Board members confirm he’s lying.
HORTY NOSORIO claims theres never been criminal activity in Lloyds but today the FT reveals that Lloyds were so worried about Noel Edmonds defence and counter claim in the High Court that they did a confidential side deal to silence a key defence witness.
So, Mr Horty Nosorio:
Lloyds knew Mr Edmonds was a victim of a serious banking crime which destroyed his businesses and took him to the edge of bankruptcy, but you still pursued him for more money and when you realised he would win in the High Court you in effect ‘bribed’ the key witness to deny Mr Edmonds a fair trial.
Lloyds enforced £1.6m claim on Noel
Edmonds despite doubts.
Bank did not make similar demand on business partner after
offering gagging deal
Lloyds is accused of treating Noel Edmonds and his business
partner, Paul Pascoe, differently over a claim against Unique
Lloyds Banking Group enforced a £1.6m personal guarantee against Noel Edmonds after the failure of Unique Group, his former business, despite knowing that there were legal doubts about the bank’s entitlement to the cash. In contrast, the bank did not enforce a similar claim against the television personality’s business partner and Unique’s former chief executive, Paul Pascoe, after he produced a lengthy statement setting out in detail why he thought the claim was ill founded. Lloyds enforced £1.6m claim on Noel Edmonds despite doubts
Instead, after advice from its lawyers, Lloyds settled with Mr Pascoe without the payment of the guarantee and bound him to silence with a gagging clause that specified he should not assist his former partner. It then pursued Mr Edmonds for his guarantee, secure in the knowledge that he would not have the benefit of Mr Pascoe’s knowledge about the fragility of its claim. Lloyds was seeking the cash from Mr Edmonds to recover losses incurred by HBOS on £2.5m of loans outstanding to Unique, which was placed in administration by the bank in early 2007. Lloyds extracted the guarantee from Mr Edmonds some five months after it rescued HBOS at the height of the crisis. The circumstances of the company’s failure are now the source of a bitter dispute between Lloyds and Mr Edmonds. The star of the popular TV series, Deal or No Deal, is seeking £300m in compensation over claims that HBOS and its disgraced former employee in Reading, Mark Dobson, deliberately destroyed Unique a decade ago.
The revelation that Lloyds did not treat the two men equally will embarrass the bank, which is already under fire over its reaction to the criminality that unfolded at HBOS’ branch in Reading. Lloyds has faced severe criticism for its treatment of the scores of small businesses that were victims of the fraud, which may have cost the bank more than £1bn. Lloyds denied that any wrongdoing had taken place for more than a decade and refused to compensate those who were affected.
Mr Dobson was jailed for dishonest conspiracy in February after a court heard the bank had referred small businesses to a corrupt turnround consultancy, Quayside Corporate Services (QCS), where they were then loaded with debt and looted.
Unique, a holding company for several of Mr Edmonds’ business interests, had taken a loan that was secured against its assets, including shares in UBC, another broadcasting company formed by Mr Edmonds. Under the terms of its contract, Unique was unable to sell its shares without the approval of HBOS. Mr Edmonds has alleged that he and Mr Pascoe made several attempts between 2004 and 2006 to sell shares in UBC that would fully have repaid the loan, but these were blocked by Mr Dobson without explanation. The banker later forced Mr Edmonds to push Mr Pascoe out of the business and made his departure a condition of the bank’s further support, Mr Edmonds alleges. Mr Edmonds also claims that Mr Dobson forced him to sell one of Unique’s most valuable assets — a stake in a video conferencing company called AVM — at a “knockdown price”, again threatening to withdraw the loan facility if he did not co-operate. The business was sold for £2.6m in late 2006 to individuals connected with Interregnum, which was QCS’s parent at the time. In 2012, those individuals sold it on for more than £10m.
When Unique disposed of its interest in AVM, Mr Dobson promptly froze the business’s accounts, in effect pitching it irrevocably towards insolvency. In early 2009, Lloyds was told by its solicitors, Denton Wilde Sapte (Dentons), that Mr Pascoe had knowledge about events at Unique of which Mr Edmonds was not aware, according to correspondence seen by the FT. It suggested that Lloyds should settle with Mr Pascoe rather than take him to court over the guarantees and run the risk of him giving evidence.
ANTONIO IS THIS CRIMINAL?
This would “deprive Mr Edmonds of the benefit of Pascoe’s knowledge concerning the various attempts at selling the UBC shares, etc”, wrote Dentons. Shortly afterwards, the law firm expressed further concerns about “the removal of borrowing facilities post-resignation of Paul Pascoe when the indications were that the bank would continue support for Unique”.
Lloyds had reason at the time to have concerns about Mr Dobson’s conduct. An internal bank investigation as early as 2007 had identified a fee of £153,000 paid on the disposal of a nightclub that should have gone to the bank but was diverted for no obvious reason into a HBOS account belonging to QCS boss David Mills, and then siphoned into “an offshore account with another bank”. Mr Dobson authorised the transfer. In April 2009, Lloyds agreed to drop the claim against Mr Pascoe, and in late May of that year the settlement with Mr Edmonds was signed. Mr Edmonds has not issued a lawsuit over his current claims and lawyers for the bank have contested his allegations. Lloyds said it regretted and apologised “for the effect the criminality relating to HBOS Impaired Assets Office in Reading has had on customers. The bank said it was progressing with mediation in Mr Edmonds’ case “where all these points will be addressed, through the proper legal process”.
Dentons and Rory McAlpine
The collapse of Unique was not the only case involving defendants in the HBOS Reading trial with which Dentons was connected. Correspondence from the City law firm’s then deputy chairman, Rory McAlpine, shows that he assisted senior bank executives with several other cases. Mr McAlpine first appears in the story in 2007 when two victims of the Reading scam — Paul and Nikki Turner — wrote to the HBOS board, complaining of their treatment and offering evidence of the bank’s wrongdoing. He wrote to the Turners on September 14 2007, observing that they had made “a number of different (but very serious) allegations” about the Reading branch’s activities. If they had evidence, the lawyer suggested they either give it to the bank or “bring it to the attention of the relevant authorities”. Mr Turner later reported the case to the Cambridgeshire police, who determined that the bank was the primary victim and approached it to see if it wished to pursue an investigation. HBOS declined to do so. Mr McAlpine also attended six court hearings in Cambridgeshire between 2008 and 2010, in which the bank attempted to repossess the Turner’s home, even though he was not involved directly in those proceedings. In January 2009, he accompanied Philip Grant, then chief operating officer of Lloyds’ corporate banking unit, to the House of Commons where the banker told concerned MPs that there was no evidence of criminality at Reading, a conclusion which appears inconsistent with the bank’s own internal investigation from 2007, a summary of which the FT has seen.
In May 2009, the BBC broadcast a radio programme highlighting the Turners’ case. According to an internal report written by a bank employee in 2013, Mr McAlpine wrote a note to Lloyds executives a fortnight before the broadcast in which he advocated the bank enforce a repossession order it had finally obtained on the couple’s home the previous November. “There would be virtue in postponing any action until 22 May, which would ensure the Turners did not receive any communication about eviction until after the BBC programme has been finalised and indeed broadcast,” Mr McAlpine wrote. On June 11, Lloyds enforced the possession order, leading to a further cycle of court hearings before a judge stayed the action the following year pending the outcome of the Reading fraud trial.
Mr McAlpine also appears in the case of other acknowledged Reading victims such as Justin Riggs, an Oxfordshire farmer whose land HBOS attempted to repossess, and Joanne Dove, who lost her home and marriage when her econappy business was destroyed by QCS. Mr McAlpine did not respond to requests for comment.