| Joyti De-Laurey
London, Jan. 24: The British husband of an Asian secretary, charged with stealing “£4,404,678” from her bosses in a spectacular fraud case in London, said he attributed his wife’s marked weakness for jewellery to the fact that she was “Indian”.
This explanation was given by the prosecution counsel at Southwark Crown Court where Joyti De-Laurey, 35, faces 21 charges of fraud allegedly committed when she was a trusted personal assistant to three senior executives at Goldman Sachs, the world-famous American investment bank.
Joyti certainly looks Asian but it is not entirely clear how “Indian” she is.
At first, some suspected that Joyti De was Bengali.
“We believe she is half Indian but really I don’t know,” said an official spokesman for Goldman Sachs, at the bank’s UK headquarters in Fleet Street. “She no longer works here.”
But Joyti’s surname belongs to her husband, one Anthony De-Laurey, a bearded chauffeur 15 years older than her and a gent who has been turning up for court proceedings in a stylish hat and dark glasses.
He has been charged with money laundering, as has Joyti’s 67-year-old mother, Devi Schahhou, who is said to be a medical doctor in north London. But Schahhou is Devi’s married name — before marriage, she was known as Devi Fatnani, a legal source disclosed.
One of the charges against Joyti — and there are several against her alleging excessively high spending for a secretary who began as a “temp”, was paid a basic of £24,000 and earned a respectable £42,000 with bonus — is that she ran up a bill of £300,000 on little trinkets from Cartier.
According to the prosecuting counsel, Stuart Trimmer, Joyti’s husband, Anthony, had taken the view that this was the kind of harmless behaviour to be expected of an Indian woman.
Trimmer told the court: “He said he did not ask his wife where it came from. He was not bothered because she is an Indian woman. Indian women like jewellery, he said.”
Nor, apparently, were Anthony’s suspicions aroused when his wife put down a deposit on a £175,000 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, which the chauffeur had described as a “reasonable car” for his birthday present. Joyti had also bought her husband a Saab convertible with several extras.
The court case is providing a fascinating insight into the lifestyles of the top executives at Goldman Sachs. They were quite happy to allow a trusted and highly efficient secretary, as Joyti certainly was, to handle huge sums of money and even manage their personal accounts.
Before her arrest in May, 2002, at her home in Cheam, Surrey, the stockbroker belt of England, it is claimed that Joyti siphoned off money from the accounts of the three executives she had worked for — Jennifer Moses, a managing director, and her husband, Ron Beller, a partner, and Scott Mead, another managing director.
It was the latter who finally spotted his personal account seemed remarkably depleted and began an investigation.
Joyti formed a close relationship of total trust with Moses, telling her boss she had suffered from cancer which was in remission. When Joyti requested a loan of £40,000, it was given interest free — and repaid, the court has been told, with stolen money.
The plan was apparently for Joyti’s husband and mother to begin a new life on the holiday island of Cyprus, where she had opened a bank account in her mother’s married name and where she had bought a £750,000 villa (together with a nice Range Rover she had spotted in the garage). She paid a deposit of £150,000 on a Jeannau Prestige speed boat to be delivered to Cyprus.
Joyti told Moses she had got a new job working for “the Archbishop of Nicosia”, the court heard.
In one transaction, the last one before her arrest, she apparently transferred £2.25million, according to the charges.
Being a good Indian daughter, it is said, Joyti paid off her mother’s mortgage, helped buy a house for her brother and sister-in-law, and a Volkswagen for her stepson. She also bought a Chrysler Grand Voyager.
When detectives searched her offices at Goldman Sachs, it is claimed they found a note in which Joyti had written: “Dear God... I’m so scared I just hope and pray that all is well and that my concern is not founded.... I don’t want to lose Jen’s (Moses) trust over anything. Please protect me.”
Joyti’s lawyers will no doubt want to establish whether this note, so conveniently found by the police, is genuine.
Trimmer told the court: “To everybody in Goldman Sachs she worked with, Joyti De-Laurey appeared a very patient, very worthwhile employee.”
He added: “She was able to escape detection partly because of the vast gulf between her behaviour and trusted status on the other hand and her dishonesty on such an outstanding scale on the other.”
The trial continues on Tuesday.