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Guilty! Four blokes conned banks in £160m fibre broadband scam

Barclays Bank and KBC presented with fraudulent contracts

Four men in the UK have been found guilty of swindling Barclays Bank and Belgian banking group KBC out of £160m in a super-fast broadband scam.

Total Asset Finance Ltd (TAF), which went into administration in 2011, had been working with H2O Networks to roll out fibre optic cables across Blighty.

H2O supplied fibre-optic internet cable connections and its unique selling point was that it used sewers as channels for these internet cables. H2O targeted public institutions such as local authorities, universities, colleges and the NHS with long-term payment contracts.

The Serious Fraud Office said the defendants had presented bogus broadband contracts to the banks, which were conned into issuing huge loans to H2O through TAF.

The Serious Fraud Office said that there was no dispute that fraud on a massive scale had occurred.

In a case at Southwark Crown Court this week, the defendants denied involvement and, in the main, "blamed each other", said the SFO in a press release.

Stephen Dartnell and George Alexander of Total Asset Limited trading as Total Asset Finance, Carl Cumiskey of H2O Networks Limited and Simon Mundy who worked for KBC were found guilty. Kerry Lloyd of TAF and Elfed Thomas of H2O were both acquitted.

Mundy was paid nearly £900,000 as an “inside man” at KBC by Dartnell to approve the funding provided by KBC to TAF. Between 2007 and 2010 this fraud amounted to almost £160m.

Director of the SFO, David Green CB QC, said: “This was a carefully planned, complex and lucrative fraud which ran over three years. It took a determined investigation to ensure that those responsible for it were brought to justice. We will now turn our attention to securing confiscation of criminal assets from those convicted”.

According to Court News UK KBC was stung for more than £142m through 42 commercial transactions over a three year period between 2007 and 2010.

Barclays parted with just under £17m in three transactions between January 2009 and November 2010.

The four guilty men were remanded in custody ahead of sentence on Friday. ®

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