Monday 25 September 2017

Court told sisters spent €820k on 'glossy magazine lifestyle'

Italian sisters Elisabetta (L) and Francesca Grillo arrive at Isleworth Crown Court in west London today
Italian sisters Elisabetta (L) and Francesca Grillo arrive at Isleworth Crown Court in west London today
Italian sisters Elisabetta (R) and Francesca (C) Grillo are surrounded by members of the media as they arrive at Isleworth Crown Court in west London

Gordon Rayner

Nigella Lawson's former "kitchen confidantes" spent £685,000 (€820,000) on holidays and designer goods during a "four-year spending spree" funded by Charles Saatchi's company credit cards, the court was told.

Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, Italian sisters who worked for Ms Lawson, stayed in top hotels and spent "exorbitant sums" on goods by Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu and Prada, the London court heard.

Jane Carpenter, prosecuting, told a jury that while they had no doubt read reports about Ms Lawson's alleged drug-taking and her divorce from Mr Saatchi, "you may think they have little relevance" to a case which was about "offences of fraud motivated by greed".

Ms Carpenter said: "This trial relates to the high life lived by Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, the sort of life you may often see portrayed in glossy magazines. But we say they did so not by their own endeavours but in a greedy and fraudulent free-for-all by abusing the trust of their employers."

She said that between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2012, the sisters used credit cards which were paid off every month by Mr Saatchi's company Conarco.

Francesca (35), who was paid a salary of £28,000, spent £580,000 without authorisation and Elisabetta (41), paid £25,000, spent £105,000, it was alleged.

Both lived rent-free in properties owned by Ms Lawson.

Irish Independent

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