Gang Deny Knowledge Of £12m 'Fraud'

Members of a gang, including one from Poole, accused of conning a Christian philanthropist out of £12 million have told a court they knew nothing about the alleged fraud.

Ian Yorkshire, 61, of Clarendon Villas, Brighton; Alan Hunt, 65, of The Avenue, Poole; Arthur Ford-Batey, 61, of Miles McInnes Court, Carlisle, Cumbria; David Roberts, 62, of Montpelier Road, Brighton; and Kevin Brennan, 55, of Kirkburn, Driffield, East Yorkshire, are accused of the fraud dating back to May 2008.

The five men, along with Brennan's brother, Martin, 40, of Bracken Road, Stockton-on-Tees, also deny laundering the money given to them by Mr Dacre.

The gang allegedly targeted millionaire businessman Graham Dacre, promising "huge returns'' from high yield investment funds, Norwich Crown Court has heard.

But the yields were not forthcoming and the money disappeared through a network of offshore bank accounts, prosecutor Mark Fenhalls said.

Kevin Brennan, a former Royal Marine, admitted he profited to the tune of £350,000 from his involvement in the scheme but told the court he had not been aware of the actions of his partners and had not suspected wrong-doing.

He denied he had been involved in a "detailed investigation'' to draw up a file which would be used to threaten Mr Dacre if he contacted the police.

Ford-Batey has told the court he did not know why the £11.9 million paid by Mr Dacre into a Swiss bank account had not been given back. Mr Dacre had requested it be returned after the promised profits failed to materialise.

Hunt, Ford-Batey and Roberts deny conspiracy to defraud another victim, Randall Schreiber, and laundering money from this fraud.

Mr Dacre, a born-again Christian from Norwich who made his fortune through car dealerships, was allegedly tricked into investing £11.9 million of his reported £70 million fortune.

The trial continues.