BusinessPeople In BusinessThe corridors of power…

The corridors of power...

OK, I admit it. I’m obsessed with fraudsters. You would be too if you’d read some of the juicier press releases issued by the Serious Fraud Office over the years.

Flash cars, mistresses, extravagant holidays… and that’s just the
detectives.

A few years back, I attended a drinks party at a posh house in the Somerset
countryside. The host, David Watmuff, a friend-of-a-friend, played the genial
‘rich but relaxed’ millionaire host. Champagne flowed and a jazz band played by
the pool.

The guy turned out to be a complete crook. The house was rented. Someone else
­ without realising it ­ was paying all the bills. Watmuff was found guilty of
embezzling more than £900,000 and sentenced to seven years in prison.

I felt sorry for his wife, a lovely lady who was duped like everyone else.
But the wives are always the last to know.

Britain’s crooks look like amateurs next to America’s finest. Consider Dennis
Kozlowski, recently convicted of stealing tens of millions of dollars from Tyco,
where he was chief executive.

Forget Lord Irvine and his Pugin wallpaper, this is the man who spent $11m
(£6m) of Tyco’s money buying antiquities and furnishings, including a $6,000
shower curtain.

Kozlowski flew dozens of his closest friends to Sardinia to celebrate his
wife’s 40th birthday. They sipped chilled vodka dispensed from an ice sculpture
of Michelangelo’s David. A bit like KPMG’s foyer at Salisbury Square ­ but
that’s another story.

John Rigas, 80-year-old founder of Adelphia Communications, has just been
sentenced to 15 years for looting $2bn from the cable company. He and his
charming sons used to take the corporate jet over to Africa for the occasional
safari.

I’m all for a good junket, but isn’t that taking it a bit far?

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