A son accused of stealing more than than £1.5million from his wealthy mother withdrew large sums from ATMs during his visits to see her in Israel, a court heard.
Jonathan Feld, 62, allegedly moved £1.3million of Hannah Feld’s money to a joint Swiss bank account before emptying it into his own account.
He also transferred stocks and shares, withdrew cash from ATMs and used her credit cards for shopping sprees in London, Southwark Crown Court heard.
Mrs Feld, 89, who retired to Tel Aviv with her late husband Monty Feld in 1988, was suffering from ‘significant cognitive decline’ at the time of the alleged thefts.
Feld is on trial after a private prosecution was brought by his sister Louise Radley.
He denies two charges of theft, between October 2014 and September 2018, and claims that the money was a gift from his mother.
Jonathan Feld, 62, allegedly moved £1.3 million of 89-year-old Hannah Feld’s money to a joint Swiss bank account before emptying it into his own account
In May 2015, an account was opened at Swiss bank Julius Baer in the name of Hannah and Jonathan Feld.
A letter, dated September 25, 2017, was sent to Julius Baer requesting the remaining balance of the account be transferred to Jonathan’s sole account, Southwark Crown Court heard.
Giving evidence, forensic accountant Claire Berrington was presented with the document opening the Swiss bank account, signed by Mrs Feld and her son.
James Fletcher, defending, said: ‘There is nothing to suggest that these signatures are not genuine?’
Ms Berrington replied: ‘That is not in my remit.’
Mr Fletcher asked: ‘But there is nothing to suggest that you have seen any documents where the signatures were not genuine?’
Ms Berrington said that she had not.
The court heard that both Mrs Feld and her son had the authority to carry out transactions, that there were no issues in the opening of the account or the way it was operated.
Jurors heard that the number of cash withdrawals from ATMs ‘increased substantially’ whenever Feld visited his mother.
Ms Berrington estimated that 64.8 per cent of cash withdrawals from Mrs Feld’s account took place while her son was in Israel from 2016.
‘When he goes to Israel there are more cash withdrawals from Hannah Feld’s bank account. At that time more money is withdrawn,’ Ms Berrington said.
‘That’s not very surprising,’ said Mr Fletcher. ‘I don’t know whether he was visiting his mother. All I know is more money comes out of her account.’
Mr Fletcher also claimed that there is ‘no banking document to support that 64 per cent figure.’
‘There absolutely is,’ Ms Berrington said. ‘I have details of when he was in the country. I have extrapolated that figure.’
Feld, from Kilburn, north-west London, is on trial at Soutwark Crown Court after a private prosecution was brought by his sister, Louise Radley
Mr Fletcher asked: ‘Why have you tried to extrapolate?’
‘Because that is the kind of thing that a forensic accountant would do,’ Ms Berrington replied.
Mr Fletcher said that there is ‘no evidence’ of who withdrew the money from the ATMs, but Ms Berrington said that they were ‘drawn when Mr Feld was there’.
Earlier Adam Gersch, prosecuting, told the court: ‘The prosecution suggest that the complex web of finances means the transactions were not gifts.
‘There is clear evidence that Hannah Feld suffered significant cognitive decline to such an extent that she required professional help and support.
‘The manner in which the money was transferred to the defendant was out of character and inherently suspicious, because any significant gifts had previously been given by the solicitors and this was a case where the money transferred to her son was done without anyone else’s knowledge.
‘Over £1 million was transferred with a number of key people being kept in the dark.’
Feld, of Chatsworth Road, Kilburn, denies two counts of theft, between October 2014 and September 2018 and claims the money was a gift from his mother.
The trial continues.