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Was CFO Looting Firm or Aiding It?

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted the chief financial officer of an Anaheim computer accessory firm for allegedly funneling $20 million in corporate funds to his own bank and stock accounts.

Authorities said it may be the largest single embezzlement case ever in Orange County.

Federal prosecutors allege that William Anthony “Tony” Lloyd outsmarted company auditors by looting a revolving company credit line from Targus Group International. He allegedly covered his tracks by altering company financial information and by transferring some funds from stock brokerage accounts to his personal bank account, prosecutors said.

Lloyd, 40, has also been accused of paying $4.8 million in company funds to a British company he owned and directed, even though that company had no business dealings with Targus.

Allan Stokke, one of Lloyd’s defense lawyers, denied that his client tried to loot the firm, suggesting instead that Lloyd was taking steps to save the company from financial straits and was not motivated by personal gain.

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“All I can say is that our client was dealing with a difficult situation and was attempting to take steps that were in the best interest of the company,” Stokke said.

But John Hueston, head of the U.S. attorney’s office in Santa Ana, painted a far different picture. He said Lloyd, who owns homes in San Juan Capistrano, England and France, was looking to enrich himself.

“It’s our contention that he committed this fraud for his own personal benefit,” Hueston said. “He abused his own position of trust to achieve this massive fraud.”

FBI investigators arrested Lloyd at Los Angeles International Airport on Sept. 3 when he returned from London, accusing him of 15 counts of wire fraud and 10 counts of money laundering and aiding and abetting. As he was taken into custody, Lloyd’s home in San Juan Capistrano was searched by the FBI.

During a detention hearing, Lloyd, a British citizen, was deemed a high risk for flight and was ordered to be held in a Santa Ana jail without bail. Prosecutors said Lloyd could face up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted of the charges.

Lloyd has worked for Targus since 1993 and was appointed CFO in 1995. According to court records, Lloyd was paid $450,000 a year by Targus. In addition, the company gave him annual bonuses, worth $150,000 last year, as well as stock options, records show.

Lloyd previously worked as a senior financial controller and director of positions with WWP Group, PLC, a worldwide advertising agency based in London.

Lloyd was directed by his firm in early 1998 to establish a revolving credit line with lender BHF Capital Corp., according to the indictment. Although much of that money was meant to be used for Targus business purposes only, prosecutors allege that Lloyd used a fax machine to initiate illegal transfers from BHF to his personal stock brokerage accounts. Prosecutors said he then wired almost $4 million of those funds to his personal bank account.

In addition to those allegations, investigators accuse Lloyd of trying to conceal payments by Targus to his own Britain-based company, Smartestates.com.

According to court documents, Lloyd’s scheme began to unravel when he invited one of Targus’ financial directors, Hassan Pay, to his birthday party in England in July. While there, Pay’s wife told her husband that she had met a group of people who worked for Lloyd at an Internet company.

Suspicious, Pay performed a background check on the companies that Lloyd had ordered large sums of money transferred to, according to a signed affidavit.

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Times staff writer E. Scott Reckard contributed to this report.


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