Norfolk millionaire Graham Dacre “sucked into” �12m fraud, court hears

A Norfolk philanthropist was duped into signing over nearly �12m to fraudsters in a scheme he did not understand, a court heard.

Graham Dacre was confused by financial jargon used to convince him of huge returns he could make on a multi-million pound investment and to explain why his alleged defrauders could not return his money.

At Norwich Crown Court Mr Dacre described how he was 'sucked into' an investment platform he called 'The System' in April 2008 and won over by the thought of making millions more to reinvest in charitable projects for young people in Norfolk – despite not knowing how it worked.

When he lost patience waiting for the return of his money and threatened to involve police, he was told a secret file on his personal life would be made public by those holding the money.

Defendants Alan Hunt, Ian Yorkshire, Arthur 'Trevor' Ford-Batey, David 'Fraser' Roberts and Kevin Brennan are charged with defrauding Mr Dacre, 60.

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

Mr Dacre said 'frontman' Hunt, introduced through a business contact, told him of the scheme to make money risk-free by providing capital for high-yield trading.

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'When you are trying to do good things, to find access to a system, to funds, is quite exciting,' Mr Dacre told jurors.

'Part of me wanted to it to be real and wanted it to work. You will realise I was sucked into this.'

He said he had believed Hunt, who told him he had been an adviser to Poole MP Robert Syms, and had even tried to impress the group Hunt represented by arranging meetings with contacts of his own, including the Bishop of Norwich and MP Charles Clarke, to prove himself 'a man of substance'.

But of the system's fine detail, he said: 'I couldn't ever get to the bottom of it. I couldn't understand it. There was lots of speak I didn't understand and ultimately I came to believe that what didn't exist, did exist.'

He added: 'I wasn't aware of how the trading worked and how the profits were produced.'

He was assured the money would remain in a 'non-depletion' account under his sole control – but within weeks he was told the early stages of the global banking crisis meant he would need to transfer the money to the group.

When he raised legal questions over the arrangements, he was told to 'take a leap of faith'.

He transferred the money and was told the money would be repaid to his Swiss account within eight days. When that didn't happen, Mr Dacre said Hunt and Ford-Batey gave him a string of 'excuses and waffle which made no sense'.

Despite that, in August – three months after the original investment – he did not want to terminate the agreement, just see the �12m returned to his control.

By November 2008 Mr Dacre was threatening to involve police and in February 2009, he received an e-mail from Hunt entitled 'Don't shoot the messenger'.

In the e-mail, Hunt told Mr Dacre that Kevin Brennan, whose job was 'to protect us, our clients and the uninterrupted flow of profits', had prepared a file on Mr Dacre's personal life in the UK and US 'down to the points on your driving licence' and would make the information public if the police were involved.

Asked about his current relationship with Hunt, Mr Dacre said: 'I would like to believe in his integrity.'

He added: 'I would have enjoyed the relationship if there had been anything of substance. In the end there was nothing but heartache and disappointment and huge loss.'

The trial continues.

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