HSBC Ignored Jersey Fraud Warnings
06 Oct 2020

A leak of data detailing alleged illegality at a Jersey trust company has revealed how corporate giants HSBC and Liberty Global appear to have failed to adequately investigate concerns over a major fraud after an heiress accused her businessman father of draining millions from trust funds set up to support her and her extended family.

According to documents and admissions made in court, in 2012 directors of a trust management company took out a £6.5m loan from HSBC secured by a grand manor house owned by a trust fund meant to support Tanya Dick-Stock. The company told HSBC the loan could be repaid with funds from another trust supporting her, and used documents to “prove” it that a US court found had been forged.

The company making these false claims, Pantrust International, was a successor to La Hougue, a Jersey trust company. John W Dick, a prominent businessman and non-executive director at the telecommunications company Liberty Global, owner of Virgin Media, had been described as having been the beneficial owner of La Hougue by Jersey lawyers in 2014.

Pantrust’s managing director Richard Wigley admitted in a US lawsuit to giving HSBC false information when the company applied for the loan. Wigley claimed that Dick had told him to do “what was necessary” to secure the money. Dick denies Wigley’s allegations.

However, repeated calls for the bank to investigate were seemingly ignored. HSBC were first made aware about concerns over the loan as early as May 2015. But despite receiving emails from Dick-Stock’s accountants and her husband, Darrin Stock, which the Bureau has seen, the bank said it could only answer queries from its clients, the trustees – the very people Dick-Stock accuses of defrauding her.

During a meeting with two police officers from Jersey’s financial crime unit in March last year, the couple’s accountants claimed that if HSBC had more appropriate due diligence the fraud might have been easily uncovered. In June, the police unit informed the accountants that it had reviewed the material it had received and the matter would not be taken any further because there was no realistic prospect of a conviction.

Dick-Stock told police that she believed the loan was used to repay her father’s personal debts, despite him not being a beneficiary of the trust – a claim which if proven in court would effectively mean funds from the trust had been stolen. Dick himself was not a beneficiary of the trust and his only official involvement was to contribute assets to it. His daughter is now suing him in the US, basing her allegations on a cache of thousands of company documents she found at St John’s Manor, and subsequently shared with journalists. Dick denies the allegations and is defending the claim; the case is ongoing in a Colorado court.

She also claimed that the trust’s assets have been sold off to repay the loan. These include St John’s Manor, one of the most prestigious homes in the Channel Islands, which was sold earlier this year after being listed for £17.5m.

By Ben Stockton, Isobel Koshiw and Franz Wild, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 5 October 2020

Read more at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

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