We are continually told that with the 3 facets of the Fraud Triangle theory (Cressey 1973) of opportunity, pressure and justification there will be, inevitably, fraud (a recent statement is at http://www2.northumberland.gov.uk/fraud/Corporate%20pages/employee_fraud.htm).
This does not apply for the raison d’etre for fraud in many cases, and certainly did not apply to Joyti De-Laurey. In my books she is a classic Predator type fraudster from the content posted on the internet -which is surprisingly in favour of her actions, similar to Herve Falciani with the Societe Generale bank. This allows the perpetrators to re-emerge in society and can reform their image and commence their activities in a different manner. I am not saying that they will naturally defraud again, but there is a very strong potential and people should be aware. Why? We know that the recidivism rate for imprisoned criminals is high and we know that this is particularly so for certain types of fraudsters.
Having identified two types of fraudster executives from my doctoral research: the Predator and the Timebomb, it is my view that the Predator is much more likely to re-offend. To balance this statement, as I do support offenders in the community to be given a chance to establish themselves in a better way, it is my belief that Timebombs if given effective therapy are extremely unlikely to re-offend and can be put in positions of trust.
How she did it
De-Laurey worked for Goldman Sachs in London as a personal assistant. So not an executive in the sense of my research, however, she held privileges, power and status ‘ lent’ to her by being the PA of a star investment banker, Edward Scott Mead. It must be realised that Goldman Sachs tend to reward their bankers at the very top end of the scale and have earned considerable opprobrium for their remuneration policies- which still exists. (See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/nov/20/goldman-sachs-bonus-shareholder-row). So although she was not herself an executive she was able to use the ‘borrowed’ power from her boss (Lammers 2009) in order to get things done. This would be especially true if the definition of power is the ability to control resources (Galinsky and others 2003) is used.
De-Laurey had access to Mead’s personal bank accounts in her role in organising the private and professional lives of her boss. She came to Mead after being recommended by fellow bankers Jennifer Moses and Ron Beller. This resulted in a total of almost £4.5 million pounds being stolen from the three individuals (1998-2002) and Mead’s dormant account thefts took place over a period of 18 months. The discovery was made when Mead went to his account and realised the theft had taken place. Apparently De-Laurey was just about to make her exit from Goldman Sachs and live a life of luxury in Cyprus. When confronted by Mead she made a very telling attempt to blackmail him by threatening to expose his affair to his wife. In the trial she accomplished this to no avail.
Hiding stolen assets
Only a £1 million were recovered the rest remained ‘lost or hidden’. My guess is that most of the remaining £3.5 million is hidden, put aside to be accessed later. This appears to be confirmed by a report in the UK Daily Mail newspaper (2008):
Goldman Sachs apparently did not pursue to seize their assets due to the negative publicity that she successfully manipulated through her lawyer and the many interviews that she gave to the press. So much so that she was painted as a Robin Hood character in the media.
Predator executive fraudsters were found in my study to be doing this in almost every case: hiding, manipulating the truth and putting out a hard luck story to justify their actions. Below are some other interesting points of what I found Predators do compared to what De-Laurey reportedly said to the media.
I dispute the fact that she said that she was going to leave. The Predators that were examined in my research never gave up their parasitical behaviour in drawing money out for themselves. My suspicion is that this was only a face saving device. Indeed, her ‘Diary to God’ which was found in her desk said in her own handwriting, written when she worked for Jennifer Moses her first boss at Goldman Sachs circa 2000:
“Please protect me I have only to secure another 40 and I’m done as far as GS [Goldman Sachs] are concerned”
The other ‘Dear God’ note written in February 2001 pleaded:
“Please help me. I need one more helping of what’s mine and then I must cut down and cease in time all the plundering”
Unfortunately for Mead, she continued stealing even larger sums. The largest, written after this note, was in December 2001 for £2.25 million in one hit (Daily Mail interview 2008).
But she could not stop her addiction to thieving and the parasitic behaviour continued until she was caught red-handed.
Moulding to the affect of the listener
Another telling sign of her fraudster type of Predator is reported in the media when she was asked in an interview in 2008 (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-548068/Britains-Biggest-Female-Fraudster-Admits-It-fun-lasted.html) about her ‘addiction to spend’ the interviewer laughed at the response from De-Laurey. The interviewer noted that: “…she starts to laugh too – a first sign that she tailors her reactions to her audiences.” If this is true, then we have a classic sign of psychopathology (Babiak & Hare 2007), and this is behaviour is prevalent in the Predator type in my study. Another aspect of psychopathology is that their lack of true bonding with friends or family. De-Laurey managed to implicate her husband and her mother and were both put on trial as accessories. Her cover story to them (Daily Mail 2008) was:
“Neither Mummy or [husband] Tony knew that I was stealing. They just assumed I was doing so brilliantly at work that I was being greatly rewarded.”
The Daily Mail (2008) reported that Tony served 6 months in jail and her own mother received a suspended sentence, both for money laundering.
This feature of Predator fraudsters is another manipulative game to create sympathy (unlike Timebombs who do it for real). She admitted taking the pills in with her to prison. The reader can make up his or her own mind about the result of this suicide attempt. In 2005, when she was in prison another interviewer noted that: “…she was alert and full or energy… she had lost none of the vibrancy in her trial.” (Julie Bindel, http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2005/sep/17/weekend7.weekend)
Sense of superiority
The most commonly reported characteristic of Predator executive fraudsters was their sense of superiority, arrogance and ‘pulling one over’ the boss. Early in 2005 De-Laurey reportedly said to The Guardian that:
“I got a huge buzz from knowing that they had no idea what I was doing…. I did not steal the money because I needed it, but because I could.”
During her imprisonment she crowed to the Julie Bindel in the same 2005 interview that:
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, I know I committed a crime, but I received over 700 letters of support after I was convicted.”
In the Daily Mail interview (2008), after her release from prison she claims that:
“I could go on to be the Pope and I will still be the woman who stole the most…”
In my view therefore, I do not see any changes in her pre and post prison sentence behaviour. She is still exhibiting signs of being a Predator.
If I was a fraud asset recovery investigator, I would be following Ms De-Laurey very closely. I would imagine that transactions would be complex because her previous behaviour demonstrated the use of her intelligence with “the amount of transfer requests that followed between other [of her] accounts … were endless” Malcolm Driscoll a City of London Police investigating offider was lauded after the trial for providing the jury with an map that “clearly showed the money trail around the world.” (SFO, 2005)
Did not stop defrauding others while on trial
To me this is another classic behaviour, every Predator in my study went on to defraud other companies while they were on bail after their arrest. It was reported by Danielle Dimetriou for The Independent newspaper (2004) that De-Laurey stole £16,000 from her mother while waiting for trial.
Can Predators reform?
I cannot state categorically that Predator fraudsters are unable to reform. At best we see in Clarke’s (2005) book on corporate psychopaths that an organisation may be able to harness their energy into projects that have no access to funds. To me that is like a training a tarantula to kiss. As Judge Christopher Elwen told De-Laurey at her judgment, it was clear that: “…lying is woven into the fabric of your being.” (The Independent, 2004)
Well said. And that is the fundamental reason why the lying and manipulation is unlikely to stop. It is part of the Predator make up. Possibly in years ahead we will find out that this is due to a bio-chemical imbalance of the brain or the result of maternal attachment disorder. Either way I wouldn’t be recommending tarantula kissing.