UK jails fugi­tive fraudster to close 22-year case

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/worldwide -

A 66-YEAR-OLD con­victed fraudster, who twice failed to turn up to court in the United King­dom to be sen­tenced and fled to the United States, has fi­nally been jailed 22 years af­ter the case was opened.

Shariq Chugh­tai, who helped run three UK trad­ing com­pa­nies, pleaded guilty to a so-called long firm fraud in July 1998 and was sen­tenced in ab­sen­tia to four years in jail in 1999, the Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice (SFO) said on Tues­day.

Once he had been tracked down, the SFO started ex­tra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings with the United States in 2015 and he was re­turned to the United King­dom last week to start his sen­tence, which was ex­tended by three months for skip­ping bail.

In long firm scams, fraud­sters win the trust of whole­sale sup­pli­ers with a series of small or­ders.

The fraud­sters then place large or­ders on credit, shield their where­abouts by hav­ing goods de­liv­ered to third-party ad­dresses, and sell them on with­out ever pay­ing the sup­plier.

Four other de­fen­dants in the same scheme were sen­tenced to jail in 1999 and have long since been re­leased from jail.

SFO cases can be de­layed for years when sus­pects ab­scond. One of the agency’s most notable re­cent suc­cesses was the 2012 con­vic­tion of Turkish Cypriot mogul Asil Nadir for fraud 19 years af­ter he fled the United King­dom.

Nadir was found guilty of steal­ing mil­lions of pounds from Polly Peck In­ter­na­tional (PPI), a global trad­ing con­glom­er­ate and stock mar­ket dar­ling in the 1980s that he built and led. The firm col­lapsed in 1990. — Reuters.

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