�12m fraud of Norwich businessman Graham Dacre sealed over coffee at exclusive hotel

A 'barmy' fraud in which Norwich businessman Graham Dacre lost �12m was sealed over coffee in one of the country's most exclusive hotels, Norwich Crown Court heard today.

An advisor of Mr Dacre, Anthony Bunker, said he repeatedly warned the Christian philanthropist against the deal.

Mr Bunker scribbled his doubts on an initial agreement drawn up between Mr Dacre and the accused fraudsters.

They met with two of the defendants, Trevor Ford-Batey and Alan Hunt, in Bath on May 3 2008 in the garden of the Royal Crescent Hotel.

Mr Bunker said they talked about the huge rates of return promised on Mr Dacre's investment which would come through a trading platform.

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He said at the end of the meeting Ford-Batey asked him if he wondered where the government got the money to bail out failed bank Northern Rock in 2008 and then tapped his nose.

The claim was disputed by Ford-Batey.

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'I thought they were barmy,' Mr Bunker said. 'I suppose we were all barmy to be sitting there talking about such a ridiculous transaction.'

But he said his friend was taken in by promises his money would be secure.

Mr Bunker revealed he received a phone call from Mr Dacre the day the money was transferred on May 8.

'He said he and his wife had spent a long time praying about this and they were convinced this was a bona fide arrangement,' Mr Bunker said.

Defendants Hunt, Ian Yorkshire, Arthur 'Trevor' Ford-Batey, David 'Fraser' Roberts and Kevin Brennan are charged with defrauding Mr Dacre. The five men, along with Brennan's brother, Martin, are also charged with laundering the money. All men deny the charges.

The trial continues.

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