Four on trial over £2m theft from a university
Four men are on trial for conspiring to steal more than £2 million from a university.
They are also accused, along with a solicitor, of trying to launder the money, after it ended up in a Leicester businessman's bank account.
Leicester Crown Court was told the businessman, Gurdip Singh (37), formerly of Spencefield Drive, Evington, has already admitted his involvement in the scam.
Andrew Peet, prosecuting, said that on October 27, 2010, the sum of £2,036,616 should have been paid to Manchester firm Ocon Construction.
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It was an interim payment for building work on a £25 million student accommodation project on the campus of the University of Sussex, in Brighton.
Mr Peet said: "That sum was transferred into an account to which Gurdip Singh was a signatory, rather than the Ocon account.
"On about October 28, Ocon and the university realised the sum had been dishonestly diverted."
Less than £20,000 of the money had been withdrawn by the time Singh's company bank account, in the name of Balecourt Ltd, was frozen, pending an investigation.
A forged invoice document was used to dupe the university, it was alleged.
"The defendants, along with Singh and an unknown person, were involved in organising the initial transfer," Mr Peet told the jury.
He said telephone evidence indicated repeated communications between Singh and three of the defendants, Hamel Bakrania and Dennis Roy Francis, both of Leicestershire, and Innocent Ohazurume, of London.
He said it was "intended by the conspirators the stolen funds, or some of them, would be transferred into bank accounts relating to Imtiaz Valli", the fourth defendant, of West Yorkshire.
The prosecution alleges solicitor Andrew Wormstone, of Velocity Legal, in Leeds, was recruited to create a "false paper trail", to give the transaction the appearance of legitimacy.
Bakrania (36), of Campbell Avenue, Thurmaston, Dennis Roy Francis (50), of King Edward Road, Loughborough, Ohazurume (50), of Martham Close, London, and Valli (44), of Caledonian Road, Dewsbury, all deny conspiracy to steal £2,036,616 from the university between September and November, 2010. All four, along with Wormstone (43), of Ashworth Road, Pontefract, deny being concerned in a money laundering arrangement, to transfer credit balances.
Mr Peet said the money went into a NatWest account at Leicester's East Park Road branch, in the name of Balecourt Ltd, of which Singh was the sole director. He said: "Once the fraud was recognised, Singh's bank manager spoke to him."
Mr Peet said: "Singh explained he was expecting £2 million from Kingfisher Airlines, for his company's production of in-flight literature."
Singh then attended the bank branch with Bakrania, who told the manager Singh owed him £15,000. Mr Peet said contrary to Singh now claimed the £2 million was in relation to a loan deal with the university.
The trial continues.