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Lloyds Banking Group a very dark horse indeed

Lloyds Banking Group / HBOS / Bank of Scotland ponzi fraud cases

Exclusive investigation

The “dark horse” is a lesser-known entity that emerges to prominence in a situation, especially in a competition involving multiple rivals, or a contestant that on paper should be unlikely to succeed, yet still might. 

This dark horse has no shortage of adversaries, with over 400 victims of their fraudulent ponzi scheme, many of whom have been denied justice.  It may well have succeeded to date, after being propped up and fortified by the UK establishment with the judiciary they control.   

Is it time for the dark horse to bolt?  We reckon so.

Suppression of evidence, prevention of access to justice and a denial fair and unbiased trial is order of the day in the UK.    The order in this case, is, by anyone’s judgment, utterly ridiculous, making a mockery of the law and the meaning of justice itself.

We interviewed Elizabeth Watson who was victimised and targeted by the dark horse, Lloyds Banking Group, formerly HBOS / “Bank of Scotland” and their lawyers. 

The Watsons, two of the 400 or so victims, suffered over 14-years of outrageous abuse by the Bank, who incited their customers into a fraudulent ponzi scheme, later deploying unlawfully obtained bankruptcy orders to cover it up.  

When someone is made bankrupt, the bankrupt’s right to make a claim, and their assets, automatically vest with the trustee in bankruptcy. In the Watson’s case they were prevented from advancing their legitimate claim for the wrongdoings and fraud that have plagued this innocent family for so many years.  

Where there is wrongdoing, there must be remedy, but where the black horse is concerned remedy is rapaciously denied.

Elizabeth and Craig Watson's shocking case of bankruptcy fraud in the hands of Lloyds Banking Group / HBOS / Bank of Scotland
A courageous fighter for truth and justice – Liz Watson of Bournemouth, aims to set a precedent reining in the antics of the black horse so others don’t have to suffer similar abuse

How it all started

It all began with the Bank’s financial partner, the Leicester based accountancy firm, Dobb White, targeting high net worth individuals, promising returns of up to 160% for a purported “risk free business investment opportunity” involving alleged bond underwriting ostensibly endorsed at board level by Lloyds/HBOS.  

Operating in cahoots with Fraser Mackay, the Bank’s former Director of Private Banking in Manchester, Mackay peddled the scheme, inciting the Bank’s customers to take out substantial equity release loans on their homes on a self-cert basis to fund purported investments in the Vavasseur / Dobb White schemes.

Mrs Watson explained that “I was told by Fraser Mackay that the collateral was to be used as “show money” to be held in locked accounts and not moved. It was promised, funds would be returned within 30-days written notice. It was a no-brainer”.

The “equity release” promise never happened, most of the Bank’s customers never saw a penny and the scheme spectacularly crashed in October 2001, after the black horse concealed the fact that American Authorities stepped in to freeze client funds that Fraser Mackay had been illegally pooling (by his own admission at the later trial), in various offshore collecting accounts. This caused Fraser Mackay’s sudden resignation on 20th November 2001.

“A criminal record from 1998 for unlicensed deposit-taking and money laundering offences”

Customers were introduced by Shin Gangar one of the Dobb White partners, whom Fraser Mackay failed to disclose already had a criminal record from 1998 for unlicensed deposit-taking and money laundering offences. $15.7 million of client funds had previously been seized by the FSA.  Even that raised no red flags for the dark horse.

Mackay, with the role of Head Auditor and Director of the Private Banking Unit in the HBOS Manchester office, was introduced as the man within the Bank who could sort out the “risk free loans”, peddled alongside the scheme to high-net worth clients during various lavish events, champagne receptions and football match hospitality gatherings arranged by Dobb White.

It was later found that Mackay was financially incentivised for converting the Bank’s customers into the scheme.  Mackay had a secret commission account at Butterfield Bank in Guernsey, which he concealed during the later SFO criminal trial. 

Fraser Mackay formerly of Lloyds Banking Group / HBOS / Bank of Scotland
Fraser Mackay, the black horse’s former Director of Private Banking celebrating Christmas 2020 after Gangar and White of Dobb White and Co were scapegoated and jailed for their part in the fraud

The US authorities, including the Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the FBI, had, by Spring 2001, lifted the lid on the linked Bahamas-based Vavasseur Corporation and were in the process of bringing its American founder, the swindler Terry Dowdell, to justice.

In July 2001, Mr and Mrs Watson fell victim to the scheme, yet by that time, the Financial Services Authority were already investigating Dobb White. That Bank must have known about this.  Once again, the dark horse kept its customers in the dark.

On 19th November 2001, the SEC froze all the investor’s money unlawfully pooled and collected by Mackay in various offshore secret accounts. The black horse, knew of this and again wilfully turned a blind eye.

Following the money being frozen by the SEC, even then, the black horse failed to notify its customers, who didn’t find out until nearly a near later when the scheme SFO initiated dawn raids, seizing the computer hard drives at Dobb White’s offices.

The SEC and Department of Justice coordinated enforcement efforts with the U.K Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”), the Leicestershire Constabulary, the FSA, Antwerp Police, and Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau. In October 2002, the SFO and the Leicestershire Constabulary arrested Gangar, White, the partners of Dobb White and two others suspected of involvement of the Vavasseur Program.

On 21st February 2003, Judge James Michael, for the Western District of Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, entered judgment against Vavasseur Corporation, the principal entity, in the sum of circa $130 million for the massive international ponzi scheme orchestrated by Terry Dowdell, who had historically traded securities with Merrill Lynch and Shin Gangar since the mid 1990’s.

In September 2004, a formal complaint was lodged by one of the bank’s customers with the FSA’s John Tiner, the chief executive. The complaint focused predominantly on the abuse of off-balance-sheet vehicles by the HBOS Bank of Scotland Corporate division to mitigate its bad debt lending liabilities.   From then on, rather than taking proactive action to assist the victims in obtaining remedy, the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”), formerly the FSA and the SFO appeared to protect the interests of the black horse, against the interests of the victims, many of whom were being had been wrongfully bankrupted, losing everything as a result.

By October 2005 the SFO charged Gangar and White with the offence conspiracy to defraud. By early July 2007 the SFO trial was underway, concluding on 22nd February 2008. Gangar and White were each jailed for 7.5 years for their part in the classic “ponzi fraud” where customers of the black horse were duped into investing into an investment scheme that did not exist.   In March 2016 Gangar, 54 was sentenced to a further 6-years and his co-conspirator Alan White, 57, to 3.5-years for failing to pay their confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. 

It appeared that the judiciary were being coerced by the UK political establishment, who arranged a secret bail out of £25.7 billion for HBOS due to its liquidity issues, directly leading to the HBOS Crash in January 2009.  The sheer scale of the scandal was withheld from the Public who were instead turned into bailees of the ailing mis-managed, HBOS bank.

On receiving unrecognised bank statements, Mrs Watson contacted the Bank In autumn 2013. Mrs Watson went on to explain that “the Bank confirmed they had “no record of any debt or draw down against our names, nor any collections on our property and that, no solicitors are instructed”.

“…the accounts are fraudulent and have used invalid sort codes, there’s nothing to worry about, the Bank said”. “Despite that admission, we were in fact being pursued by Eversheds from 2007”.

Less than two-years after the reassurances, in 2015 , we found ourselves being pursued through the courts for possession of the property for a debt we never even owed, from an alleged loan that was never even drawn down that was, in any event, proceeds of crime”.

The Watson’s property is legally and beneficially owned by their daughter

We were shown a Bare Trust Deed whereby the Watsons were Trustees since 5th April 1997 holding the property in trust for their daughter, who became the legal and beneficial owner when she turned 18 in 2008.  Title to the property then passed absolutely to her.

We were also shown a letter from Follet Stock Solicitors dated 22nd August 2012 enclosing that Bare Trust Deed, to which Eversheds responded.     

The black horse and their legal advisors have known ever since that the property, subject to the alleged secured loan forming part of the ponzi fraud was owned by the Watson’s daughter. It galloped on irrespectively, jumping the hurdles like they never existed.

On 5th November 2008, Timothy Pyle, a solicitor partner acting for the black horse, purported to make out a claim for possession of the property.   The claim form was never validly issued nor served, but that didn’t stop Judge Martin Dancey, who we envisage to have been another of the “go to” judges for the black horse and their affiliates.  Dancey made an order in absence of having either a claim form or a right to make a possession order before him.  They all knew the property was owned by the Watson’s daughter.

Judge Margin Dancey - Bournemouth County Court
Brazen – Judge Martin Dancey of Bournemouth County Court makes orders in absence of having a claim knowing he had no jurisdiction to make it

One cannot take possession of something that is not owned by the alleged debtor, but there was never a debt, only fraud, essentially perpetrated by the black horse and its director, Mackay and his cronies engaging in insider dealing.

Section 265 of the Insolvency Act 1986 commits the bankruptcies as being void from the outset in statutory law

It was the void possession order that also purported to be a money claim that founded the alleged bankruptcy petition against both Mr and Mrs Watson, who were, in any event, both non-UK resident, having 7-year resident’s permits in Qatar.   

Statutory law makes it illegal to bankrupt anyone that has been ordinarily non-UK resident for 3-years or more prior to serving a bankruptcy petition, as was the case with both Mr and Mrs Watson.   Even unlawfulness didn’t stop the black horse and its cabal in their quest.

265 Conditions to be satisfied in respect of debtor

  • A bankruptcy petition shall not be presented to the court under section 264(1) (a) or (b) unless the debtor— (a) is domiciled in England and Wales, (b) is personally present in England and Wales on the day on which the petition is presented, or (c)at any time in the period of 3 years ending with that day  — (i) has been ordinarily resident, or has had a place of residence, in England and Wales, or (ii) has carried on business in England and Wales.

On both grounds, it is clear to anyone, whether legally trained or not, that it is unlawful to have bankrupted the Watsons.   Those, however, were not the only grounds.

The alleged possession claim was neither issued nor served

Aside from the fact that the property is legally and beneficially owned by a third party and not the alleged debtor (there is no debt), the Civil Procedure Rules, governing the way justice is to be administered, also determine that the alleged claim is a procedural nullity.

CPR Part 55 is the part that deals with possession claims. CPR Part 55(b) cites that:

“the standard period between the issue of the claim form and the hearing will be not more than 8 weeks”.

The purported possession hearing did not commence until 6 years, 7-months and 26-days after the date on the unsealed claim form and the claim was never even issued.

CPR Part 55(c) cites that the defendant must be served with the claim form not less than 21 days before the hearing. The claim form was not served, predominantly, because the claim never began in Law, due to the non-compliance with Civil Procedure Rule Part 55.

CPR Part 55.13 deals with service of the claim form. Part 55.13(d) cites that:

“The court will serve the claim form by first class post (or an alternative service which provides for delivery on the next working day)”

The court did not serve the claim form, because the claim was simply never issued. It is ultra vires (beyond one’s powers) for any judge to have made any order in the case in absence of having a validly issued and served claim form, notwithstanding the fact that one cannot take possession of property owned by a third party.  Even that, did not stop the black horse and its supporters.

“You can lead the horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”

In March 2021 we approached Mr Budenberg, Chairman of Lloyds Banking Group to amicably resolve the illegal bankruptcy orders by consent.  Mr Budenberg passed the reins back to Eversheds.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. 

Lloyds Banking Group - Elizabeth Watson banking fraud case / unlawful bankruptcy
A view of the sign outside the black horse’s Lloyds banking Group office in the City of London

On 8th April 2021, Mr Budenberg’s executive office replied to us: “all correspondence should be directed to the Bank’s lawyers Eversheds-Sunderland”.

Over a year prior, we sought to address the issues comprehensively with Eversheds.  In a letter to our CEO from Helen Marriott, counsel at Eversheds, also a Deputy District Judge, dated 29th April 2020, we complained about Richard Pitt of Eversheds presenting a false case and falsifying the originating bankruptcy documents.

Ms Marriott responded by saying: “I can only comment on the conduct of Eversheds Sutherland staff. I will not address any issues that you raise which relate to the conduct of Bank of Scotland Plc, their reasons for the litigation against Mr and Mrs Watson or any issues raised within your emails that do not relate to the conduct of Eversheds Sutherland staff, including your reference to the title to the property”.

The bankruptcy documents were falsified by Eversheds

In the purported bankruptcy petition it was stated by Richard Pitt, a solicitor at Eversheds that “the Debtor’s centre of main interests is in England and Wales”, a statement Mr Pitt knew to be blatantly false, with the petition also stating “The abovementioned debt is for a liquidated sum payable immediately”

There never was a debt, only a proceed of crime originating from the ponzi fraud.

The black horse led us around the garden path

In a further email from Ms Marriott of Eversheds dated 15th April 2021 in response to our CEO’s concise letter of March 2021 advancing two irrefutable points in law:

“this matter is in the hands of the Trustees in Bankruptcy and you should direct further queries to them.  I also made it clear in that email that the issues that you raise regarding the Statutory Demand against Mr Watson are issues for the court and that no further comment would be made in relation to the Statutory Demand or the Bankruptcy Order”.

All avenues lead to the same end where the black horse and their conspirers are concealed, white is black, even when it’s proven to be white.

We addressed the issues with DLA Piper, acting for the purported Joint Trustees, David Standish and Blair Nimmo of KPMG, who replied on 22nd April 2021 stating;

“Mr and Mrs Watson were made bankrupt on 2 October 2017. Pursuant to an application notice dated 6 July 2020 and issued on 13 July 2020, Mr and Mrs Watson applied to rescind the bankruptcy orders. The application was heard by The Honourable Mr Justice Marcus Smith on 13 November 2020. The application to rescind the bankruptcy orders was dismissed as being wholly without merit. The Order also records that there is no basis to suggest that the bankruptcy orders made against Mrs and Mr Watson are anything other than regular and normal”.

The order from Mr Justice Marcus Smith – a cover up by the Bank and its supporters with outright failure to address key issues

Eversheds initiated the litigation under instruction by the Bank, they had conduct of the litigation throughout.   We set out substantive and incontrovertible facts that prove in law that the bankruptcy and possession orders are illegal. 

Lawyers and judges are supposed to address issues in litigation, that is what they are there for, none of them ever have done.

The corrupt magic circle law firms who act for the corporations have their own “go to” judges who ensure their targets, victims of this abuse who come to the courts to get justice, never get it.   In this case, theirs was Mr Justice Marcus Smith.  These “judges” effectually ratify the fraud and wrongdoings, covering it up against the interests of justice, contrary to the law and the public interest.    

In his order, following the Watson’s application to rescind (revoke) the unlawful bankruptcy orders, Smith had the audacity to affront the law itself on both irrefutable grounds, certifying the application as “totally without merit” meaning “no more or less than bound to fail” whilst deploying an Extended Civil Restraint Order against Mrs Watson as a form of further dishonest concealment, because their case is proven. 

We quote the two core statements by Smith J in the order:

  1. There is no basis to suggest that the judgment against Mrs and Mrs Watson in the Possession Claim, including specifically the judgment debt that led to the making of the bankruptcy orders against them, is anything other than regular and proper
  • There is no basis to suggest that the bankruptcy orders against Mrs and Mr Watson are anything other than regular and proper

Another prime example of how the corrupt UK judiciary evade the law to provide unjust assistance to unscrupulous law firms, insolvency practitioners and corporations who essentially rely on the likes of Mr Justice Marcus Smith and many others to ratify their frauds and wrongdoings.

We have invited the black horse, Lloyds Banking Group, Eversheds, KPMG, DLA Piper and Mr Justice Marcus Smith to comment on this article. We will publish any such comments in our follow up in a week or so’s time.

Please be sure to sign our petition, comment, like, share and donate what you can afford to our cause in restoring the rule of law that underpins our democratic society.

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