Six people, including two ex-HBOS bankers, have been convicted over claims they drove businesses into the ground for their own gain, running up losses of around £250m for the now collapsed bank.
Former banker David Mills, 60, his wife Alison Mills, 51, his associates Michael Bancroft, 73, and Tony Cartwright, 72, and HBOS employee Mark Dobson, 56, were all found guilty today at Southwark Crown Court after a five-month trial.
Meanwhile, Lynden Scourfield, 54, once head of the HBOS department responsible for businesses in financial difficulty, pleaded guilty to his part in the scheme in August 2016.
The court was told David Mills bribed Scourfield, with lures including cash, lavish holidays and prostitutes, to push troubled businesses to engage with Quayside Corporate Services, Mills' turnaround firm, if they wanted to obtain further funding from HBOS.
Scourfield then advanced sums of money to these businesses so large it was clear they could never be repaid. This allowed Mills, his wife, Bancroft and Cartwright to charge through the nose for their consultancy services, and, in some cases, Mills and Bancroft swooped in to take over the businesses for their own benefit.
Many of the businesses caught up in the scheme eventually went into liquidation, leading to job losses, financial hardship, breakdowns of marriages and serious ill-health for those involved.
"Many people have had their lives ruined by the corrupt behaviour of Lynden Scourfield, David Mills and their associates," said Stephen Rowland, specialist prosecutor from the Crown Prosecution Service Specialist Fraud Division
"Scourfield worked in a section of his bank which was supposed to help struggling businesses but instead, motivated by greed, he went about stripping them of their assets."
The convicted six are due to be sentenced on Thursday. A sixth man, Jonathan Cohen, 60, has been acquitted.