Graham Dacre fraud case: German church reveals it lost 10m euros

Jurors in a multi-million pound fraud trial have heard how a German church was allegedly hoodwinked by some of the same men accused of defrauding Norwich businessman Graham Dacre.

Attention at the trial of five men accused of conning philanthropist Mr Dacre, 60, today switched to the New Apostolic Church in Dortmund, which four of the suspects are also alleged to have defrauded.

Giving evidence at Norwich Crown Court, Eberhardt Dodt, former finance manager at the church said the organisation had, in December 2007. signed a contract to hand over 10m euros for investment.

Mr Dodt said fellow church member Professor Frank Zisowski had advised that they enter the deal, so he and church leader Armin Brinkmann flew to England to seal the deal.

He met Alan Hunt and David 'Fraser' Roberts, two of the men in the dock, at the Law Society Courts in Chancery Lane, where a contract was signed agreeing that the church would hand over 10m euros to a company called HBF Capital.

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Hunt signed the contract, Dodt said, while the signatures of Arthur 'Trevor' Ford-Batey and another man - George Katcharian - were already on it.

Mr Dodt said his understanding was the money would not be withdrawn from the HBF account, but would be linked, four to eight days later, to an account set up in the name of the church in Switzerland

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Mr Dodt said he had understood returns on the money invested would generate cash for the church to spend on humanitarian projects.

The reason why the money was to be held in the HBF account, Mr Dodt said he was told, was so procedures could be carried out to ensure the money was 'clean'.

But a string of excuses were offered as to why an account could not be set up for in the name of the church for it to be linked to, including that the financial crisis was causing problems and that the bank manager was on holiday.

Even when an account was eventually set up at a bank in Zurich more than two months later, there was still no sign of the cash.

Mr Dodt said: 'That money never came into the account. We never received our 10m euros and we never received part of it.'

In cross examination, John Dodd QC, defending for Hunt, questioned whether Mr Dodt was aware that his fellow church member Prof Zisowski had 250 euros paid into his account by Mr Katcharian.

Mr Dodt said he was, but said that was part of a separate project agreed between Prof Zisowski and Mr Katcharian.

Mr Dodd said the English authorities were looking to speak to Prof Zisowski, but that he was 'not willing to co-operate'.

Hunt, Ford-Batey and Roberts are charged with defrauding and laundering the money from the German church, as is Ian Yorkshire.

The men, along with Kevin Brennan, are also charged with defrauding Mr Dacre, 60, with the court having heard earlier in the trial how he handed over �12m into an investment scheme he thought would make millions to reinvest in charitable projects for young people in Norfolk.

The five, along with Brennan's brother, Martin, are also charged with laundering the money.

Hunt, Ford-Batey and Roberts are also charged with conspiracy to defraud Utah commodities trader Randall Schreiber in 2004 and launder the money.

All men deny the charges and the trial continues.

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