Chapter 6

Robin Hood or Robbing Hood?

‘There is no greater calamity than lavish desires. There is no greater guilt than discontentment. And there is no greater disaster than greed.’

Lao-tzu (604–531 BC), ‘The way of Lao-tzu’


In 2004, the judge at Southwark Crown Court sentenced Joyti De Laurey to seven years in prison for committing a £4.4 million fraud while working as a personal assistant at merchant bank Goldman Sachs. Also convicted for their involvement in the fraud were Joyti’s husband, Anthony De Laurey, and Joyti’s mother, a sixty-eight-year-old general practitioner.

What makes the De Laurey case particularly remarkable was that it wasn’t so much her employer’s business that Joyti stole from, as the personal bank accounts of the senior managers for whom she worked and acted as an all round general factotum. It caught the public eye at the time and for many, both then and now, following the collapse of the economy after the credit crunch, Joyti De Laurey was more of a female Robin Hood than the greedy and devious fraudster that she undoubtedly was.

The BBC made a docudrama, with Meera Syal in the lead role as De Laurey, ensuring that the case and De Laurey’s exploits remained in the public eye and acquired an almost heroic status as the lowly British personal assistant stealing from the arrogant and super-rich US bosses at Goldman Sachs.

Joyti De Laurey was a trusted employee who successive bosses had allowed to handle their personal and ...

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