The fraud involved the funding of Merseyside company H2O Networks, which entered administration almost six years ago. Stephen Dartnell and George Alexander of Warrington-based lender Total Asset Finance, Carl Cumiskey of H2O Networks and Simon Mundy who worked for Belgian Banking Group KBC were found guilty at Southwark Crown Court for conspiracy to make corrupt payments and conspiracy to commit fraud against Barclays Bank and KBC The jury were told by counsel for the Serious Fraud Office that there was no dispute that fraud on a massive scale had occurred, but the defendants denied involvement and, in the main, blamed each other.
Dartnell, Alexander and Cumiskey had conspired to create, sign and sell falsely inflated or entirely false contracts from the company H2O to business lenders, Barclays Bank and KBC.
H2O supplied fibre-optic internet cable connections and their unique selling point was to use 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. 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”.
The men will be sentenced on Friday.
An ultrafast, world-class broadband network could be created in Liverpool city centre1 using existing ducts under the streets owned by the council. It would mean that broadband providers would not have the expense of digging up roads and pavements to install the connections.
The city council2 would benefit from rental income and a share of the revenue if the scheme goes ahead. Cllr Gary Millar, cabinet member for business, enterprise and investment, said: I know from my discussions with potential investors that the city is losing out on investment and business growth because of a perception about broadband speeds in the city simply not being fast enough.
We also need existing businesses to be able to take advantage of faster speeds to handle growing needs and enable them to win more contracts and custom.
As well as supporting existing firms, it will also help us attract new businesses to the city.
We have exciting times ahead of us and in this case our ambition is to be fast, really fast and if possible as ultra fast as technology allows and with the help of providers make it as low cost as it can possibly be. Following a request from Mayor Joe Anderson3, the council is asking for expressions of interest from broadband providers in renting space in the network of piping beneath the roads. These are currently used by the city for cabling for traffic signals and for police communications, and a similar scheme has already been carried out in Bristol.
Cllr James Noakes, mayoral lead for energy and smart city, said: We are making progress in connecting some parts of the city to superfast broadband through the Merseyside Connected programme but we believe this could be a game changer and give us world-class connection speeds.
It would assist in employment generation by attracting new companies and business, and we would be looking to the provider to work with us on developing the broadband and ICT skills and capabilities of the city s workforce, as well as addressing digital exclusion and promoting the use of broadband.
A long term contract could be awarded by the end of the year.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal on the touchline
Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal is hoping to make it a record breaking five in five against Liverpool when the two English sides clash in their Europa League showdown on Thursday. The two most successful clubs in English domestic football meet for the first time in European competition this week, with Van Gaal eager to keep up his win-streak against the Reds, having never lost in the four games against the Merseyside club since taking over at United in 2014. A win on Thursday will make it five wins in five games against his bitter rivals, the first time the Red Devils would have ever achieved this feat, and something their Dutch coach has his eye on.
It s curious we have beaten Liverpool so many times under me, but it s good for me as the appreciation is higher from the fans when I beat teams like Liverpool, Van Gaal told reporters.
I hope we shall beat them for the fifth time and the sixth time but more for the fans than myself.
If we win for a fifth time then I am also in the books with a positive record.
Van Gaal knows the importance of his side s European tie, and feels the English presence in continental competition is an indication of the strength of the local league.
You have to win there is no difference with it being a cup competition, he said.
United against Liverpool is always a big game. It s historical and even bigger now because both teams are fighting for a Champions League place.
When you play in the Europa League, you are more likely to play clubs from other countries. But now we play against the same teams we normally play in the Premier League.
It shows the Premier League is strong.
Kick-off at Anfield on Thursday is set for 22:05 South African time. BBC