Nathan Skinner reports on the continuing Independent fraud case

The remaining eleven jurors charged with deciding the fate of the ‘Indie three’ heard their first substantial evidence from two of the defendants this week.

The prosecution presented transcripts of taped interviews, with Michael Bright and Philip Condon, conducted by Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigators over two years after independent went into liquidation.

Bright’s tapes concentrated on events at the end of 2000 and beginning of 2001. On more than one occasion Bright said his understanding of events was based on information provided by his associates, chiefly Terry Masters (a reinsurance advisor from Aon) and finance director Dennis Lomas.

SFO investigators also questioned Philip Condon on issues around claims handling and reserving. Indie’s former deputy managing director regularly claimed he couldn’t remember the specifics around particular incidents.

Also of note this week was the testimony of Andrew Sayers, a partner in Independent’s auditors KPMG, and Garth Ramsay, Independent’s former executive chairman. Neither witness was aware of any side agreements, in addition to the three reinsurance contracts designed to protect Indie’s reserves, prior to a key board meeting in March 2001.

During cross examination, Michael Bright’s counsel Ian Winter QC asked Sayers: “You never saw any evidence of management inappropriately interfering with claims handling?”

“That’s right,” replied Sayers.

Condon’s counsel revealed that in May 2001 Indie’s board had unanimously rejected a resignation proposal from the deputy MD who felt partly responsible for the company’s poor financial position.

Michael Bright, Philip Condon and Dennis Lomas deny charges of conspiracy to defraud. The case continues.