Wednesday, 4th January 2006
City stars hit by £300k bank scam
FOUR young men today pleaded guilty to stealing more than £300,000 from the bank accounts of three Manchester City players. The court heard that over a three-year period, the men took the money from the accounts of players Vincent Vuoso, Djamel Belmadi and Daniel van Buyten.
VICTIM: Daniel Van Buyten.
The men, who included two former members of staff of the Co-operative Bank, were committed to Manchester Crown Court to be sentenced on January 27.
Manchester magistrates' court heard today that over a three-year period the four men took a total of £323,235 from the Co-operative Bank accounts of the Manchester City players Vincent Vuoso, Djamel Belmadi and Daniel van Buyten.
All three players had accounts arranged with the Co-operative Bank in Manchester by Manchester City around the time they signed for the club.
The thefts from their accounts continued once the players had been transferred away from City to clubs abroad. The bank became aware of the offences after two of the players' agents started querying why there was less in the accounts than they had expected.
Paul Sherwood, a customer service assistant at the bank, had access to the computer system and information about customer accounts. The 25-year-old, of Simister Green, Prestwich, admitted 10 counts of theft and asked for another 91 similar offences to be taken into consideration.
VICTIM: Matias Vuoso.
He has admitted stealing £238,000 from player accounts.
Paul Hanley, a senior customer adviser at the bank, of Whitworth Street, Manchester city centre, admitted 10 counts of theft, totalling £70,740.
Lewis Chadwick, 21, also of Whitworth Street, admitted one count of theft of £14,000. The court heard he was an old school friend of Hanley's.
Zac Smith, 21, of Woodcock Grove, Glossop, admitted two counts of theft totalling £460.
Both Chadwick and Smith had allowed their bank accounts to be used as part of the scam.
Alan Richardson, prosecuting, said that Manchester City had an arrangement with the Co-operative Bank which involved players having accounts opened for them when they arrived at the club.
Argentinian Vuoso was at the club from July 2002 until May 2003, when he left for Mexico, and opened two accounts at the bank. Algerian Belmadi was at City from January 2003 until October 2003, when he left for the Middle East.
His agent became suspicious when there did not appear to be as much in the bank account as he expected when he came to transfer it abroad. Van Buyten, a Belgian player, was with Manchester City from January 2004 until July 2004.
VICTIM: Djamel Belmadi.
His agent also requested money to be transferred to another account.
Mr Richardson said it was no coincidence that the accounts targeted belonged to foreign players, who were not at the club long and moved on to play overseas.
The Co-operative Bank carried out its own investigations into the accounts and the police were contacted. The bank has repaid the money to all the players and is considering civil court proceedings against the four defendants to recover the cash.
Mr Richardson said that Sherwood had used the cash for his gambling habit while Hanley and Chadwick had spent it on an executive city centre apartment and led an affluent lifestyle, including trips to the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Smith had used his proceeds from the crime to pay off debts.
None of the four have any previous convictions. They spoke only to confirm their name, date of birth and address during the 20-minute hearing.