A TYCOON has been cleared of bribing a Vietnamese bank governor by paying for his son to attend Durham University in exchange for a £90m printing contract.

Bill Lowther, 73, was accused of footing the bill for the son of Le Duc Thuy, the boss of the State Bank of Vietnam, to study for an MBA.

The packaging magnate personally chauffeured the Le Duc Minh to an interview for a place at the university, but told jurors he was just being “helpful”.

Loading article content

A jury at Southwark Crown Court cleared Mr Lowther unanimously of conspiracy to corrupt.

Mr Lowther had been on trial for two weeks, accused of paying £21,000 for Le Duc Minh’s tuition fees and accommodation in the UK to “curry favour” with the powerful finance official.

His efforts were alleged to have been bribes to ensure the Vietnamese official awarded his banknote printing firm Securency a lucrative contract.

The prosecution case was that that between 2002 and 2008, Securency was awarded 29 contracts in Vietnam worth a total of £90m.

Mr Lowther was the driving force behind the creation of Securency as a joint venture with the Australian Reserve Bank in 1996.

He was also a director of UCB, now Innovia, which had a 50 per cent stake in Securency, at the time of the alleged 2003 corruption.

Mr Lowther told the court he had helped the official’s son after he was contacted by Securency managing director Myles Curtis in January 2003.

But he denied any wrongdoing or knowing the arrangement was part of a bung to the Vietnamese official.

Mr Lowther of St Aidan’s Road, Carlisle, had denied a single count of conspiracy to corrupt between January 1 and December 31, 2003.