Two years ago Joyti De-Laurey signed a confession detailing how she had used her trusted position as a secretary at the investment bank Goldman Sachs to plunder the private bank accounts of three bosses, helping herself to almost £4.5m.
Six months later, after stress treatment at the Priory private clinic, she sacked her legal team and tore up the confession. It was a decision that sparked a scandal-packed three-month trial during which De-Laurey attempted to drag the reputations of her former bosses through the mud, with claims ranging from cheque forgery to extramarital affairs.
Yesterday a jury at Southwark crown court brushed aside De-Laurey’s central claim that transfers to her account had been legitimate payments for helping three Goldman bosses run their private lives. She was found guilty on 20 counts of theft and forging cheques and other transfer instructions.
De-Laurey will be sentenced on June 14 along with her husband, Anthony, a chauffeur, and her mother, Devi Schahhou, a GP, who were yesterday convicted of money laundering offences.
The main victim of the elaborate scam, Scott Mead, said yesterday: “Joyti De-Laurey has mounted a vindictive and implausible defence in which she and her team of lawyers attempted to put the victims on trial … It was a ludicrous and malicious fantasy from start to finish.”
De-Laurey, described in court by Mr Mead as the “Picasso of conmen”, used the stolen money to fund an extravagant lifestyle, buying a fleet of luxury cars, properties in Britain and Cyprus, and Cartier jewellery worth £300,000. She also paid off debts from a failed sandwich bar business and her mother’s mortgage.
Mr Mead was one of the most revered figures in the City before his retirement last year. As chief adviser to Vodafone, he led a string of takeover deals that transformed the Newbury-based 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.
Mr Mead stumbled on the scam two years ago while making a donation to his former college. It emerged that his secretary, who was preparing to quit her job and retire to Cyprus, had been stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds from Goldman bosses for about 18 months – some time before she came to work for Mr Mead.