Trio accused of scam to sell London's Ritz Hotel
Three men appeared in court Tuesday accused of trying to sell London's Ritz Hotel for 250 million pounds (300 million euros, 360 million dollars) in a deal described by prosecutors as "complete fantasy".
The men allegedly used the promise of acquiring the five-star hotel as a way of convincing potential buyers to hand over a one-million-pound deposit.
But prosecutor Ahuja Dhir said the deal was based on "one great big lie".
"They promised their targets something that seemed to be too good to be true," she told Southwark Crown Court in London, where the men are on trial.
"The deal that sounded too good to be true was a complete fantasy."
Anthony Lee, 49, Patrick Dolan, 68, and Conn Farrell, 57, all deny conspiracy to defraud between January 1, 2006, and March 30, 2007. Their trial is expected to last for up to a month.
The Ritz is one of London's most famous hotels, located on the edge of Green Park near Buckingham Palace and famed for its afternoon teas.
Set up by celebrated Swiss hotelier Cesar Ritz, it opened its doors in 1906. The hotel is now owned by British businessmen the Barclay brothers.
© 2010 AFP