Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bribe Claims Not True, Says Tycoon; 'I Was Being Helpful,' He Tells Court

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bribe Claims Not True, Says Tycoon; 'I Was Being Helpful,' He Tells Court

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Phillips ? 0191 201 6262 ?

ATYCOON accused of attempting to secure a PS90m contract by landing a bank governor's son a place at a top university told a court he was just being 'helpful'.

Bill Lowther, 73, allegedly paid for the son of Vietnam's state bank boss Le Duc Thuy to study for an MBA at Durham University.

The packaging magnate stumped up more than PS21,000 for tuition and accommodation for his son Le Duc Minh and chauffeured him to an interview with the course director after setting up the meeting, it is claimed.

It is alleged his efforts were part of a package of bribes aimed at securing a lucrative contract for his banknote printing firm Securency.

Lowther, who denies corruption, said he had helped Mr Minh after he was contacted by Securency managing director Miles Curtis in January 2003.

He said: "I believe he said that the governor said he would very much like his son to go to the UK as part of his education.

"And he was of the view that I was involved with universities, and was it possible for me to help in respect of a just getting him and name he could ring or contact? "I took the view that I would try to be helpful."

He told Southwark Crown Court he was aware that Durham University was keen to attract overseas students.

"[I thought] I would be doing two things, helping a young fellow in terms of his education, and helping the university in terms of coming up with a possible student," he said.

"I made it absolutely clear to Miles that if he contacts them then this is not a Third World university.

"Durham has got a huge reputation and the young fellow will have to have all the appropriate qualifications that were required as part of him receiving an entry to the university.

"I said 'Look, if he comes he will have to go through the process'.

Lowther went on to tell the court he had been asked to act as a referee for Mr Minh on his application form. …

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