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Monday, 5 September 2011

"She Damaged The Reputation of the Jersey Finance Industry!!!"

"Infatuated" woman stole £176,000 for lover

A finance worker has been jailed for two years after stealing £176,000 from a Trust Company because she was "infatuated" with a man.

33-year-old Luisa Smith (right) also borrowed thousands in cash from her parents and took out £286,000 in bank loans and by re-mortgaging her home because she was afraid her boyfriend Jason Thomas would leave her.

Thomas is currently being investigated for embezzling the money in the UK.

Miss Smith's defence said Thomas had threatened his client if she failed to provide him with cash.

After sentencing, Luisa's mother spoke exclusively to Channel Television about her fear that other vulnerable women could find themselves at the mercy of men like Thomas.

Elia Smith said: "I just ask to everyone, every girl to make sure they're involved with any men to make sure what, who they are because it's happened this way."

Three years ago, aged 30, Luisa was a successful businesswoman working as a trust fund manager at Capita Trustees.

She owned her own home, had a good job and was close to her parents.

But on a trip to London she met Thomas, and they began a relationship. The crown prosecution described it as a source of cash and casual amusement for Thomas.

He began to pressure Luisa for money and she borrowed thousands of pounds from her parents, by re-mortgaging her home, taking out bank loans, cash from credit cards and money her mother had given her.

Over a four-month period Luisa stole £176,000 from the trust fund she was administering in nine separate transactions ranging from two to £62,000.

Smith faked documents to cover her tracks so it appeared the relevant signatures were in place. But days after she had made her final transaction, auditors became suspicious and Smith was arrested.

The court heard how Smith did not see a penny of the money she stole and it all went to fund a luxury lifestyle for Thomas. He bought a jet ski, art and put down a deposit on a boat.

But when the money stopped coming, Thomas's communications became hostile.

One of his texts to Smith read: "Please don't let me down as I'm pi**ed off so much because you did not pick the phone up last night."

Another said: "Just sort it. If you love prove it to me and stop f**king around!

In summing up, the judge said Miss Smith had been foolish, that a case such as this was unusual because the money she had stolen had not gone to fund a lavish lifestyle of her own.

However, he said that a breach of trust with theft with a very serious matter and not only had she ruined her relationship with friends and family, but she had also damaged the reputation of the islands financial industry.

Her mother said: "I could die, I don't know I was very depressed, I've been treated by the doctor, my doctor's bringing me home every day because I can't even go out. I'm very very very depressed I can't even go out."

Luisa's parents described their daughter's two year jail sentence as fair.

Jason Thomas - along with the £176,000 Smith stole - are now the centre of a money laundering investigation in the UK.

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