A top London secretary who hoodwinked her bosses out of £4.3m to fund a lavish lifestyle of conspicuous consumption was jailed for seven years today at London’s Southwark crown court.
Joyti De-Laurey, whose husband and mother helped her launder the money, carried out her carefully-calculated “betrayal” behind a smokescreen of efficiency, the court heard.
After tapping into the investment accounts of managing directors Jennifer Moses and her husband Ron Beller at Goldman Sachs, De-Laurey is believed to have concealed part of her spoils abroad.
Her next victim was Scott Mead, then a partner in the same company. De-Laurey, branded a “cash queen” by Mr Mead, was planning to start a new life in a sumptuous £750,000 seafront villa in Cyprus and with more than £1m in the bank.
She also spent nearly £400,000 on diamond-encrusted Cartier jewellery, showered relatives and friends with cars, gifts, homes and holidays, and apparently donated to charities. De-Laurey, of North Cheam in Surrey, also ordered a £150,000 powerboat and a £175,000 Aston Martin, but was arrested before they could be delivered.
She was convicted in April of 14 charges of obtaining money transfers by deception, and six of using “false instruments” with intent between February 2001 and April 2002. Her husband Anthony, 50, a former Ministry of Defence policeman who was found guilty of four money laundering counts, was jailed for 18 months.
The secretary’s widowed mother, Dr Devi Schahhou – a 68-year-old GP from north-west London, was convicted of four similar charges, and received a six-month sentence suspended for two years.
The jury brushed aside De-Laurey’s central claim that transfers to her account had been legitimate payments for helping the three Goldman bosses involved run their private lives.
Mr Mead – the main victim of her elaborate scam – was one of the most respected figures in the City before his retirement last year. As chief adviser to Vodafone, he led a string of takeover deals that transformed the firm into the world’s biggest telecoms company.
De-Laurey siphoned £3.3m out of his private investment account in New York, forging his signature or adding transfer instructions to papers he had signed. She stole up to £2m at a time from the account in less than five months.