Americans angry as BCCI man is jailed

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The Independent Online
A SENIOR executive of the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International was jailed for three years at the Old Bailey yesterday despite court objections from US investigating authorities that he should never have been charged, writes John Willcock.

Lawyers from the New York District Attorney's office and the Federal Reserve flew to London to commend Imran Imam's help in recovering dollars 750m (pounds 500m) for BCCI creditors in the US.

They had handed over Imam to the Serious Fraud Office in 1992 thinking that it would not take action, since the Americans wanted him to provide further evidence for prosecutions against other BCCI figures.

The decision by the SFO to prosecute led to bitter accusations by the Americans at the Old Bailey that the SFO had reneged on a deal. But they admitted that Chris Dickson, the SFO's case controller, had never given a firm commitment not to prosecute.

Last week, after giving evidence for Imam, John Moscow, an assistant district attorney in New York, said if there had been greater co-ordination with law enforcement agencies throughout the world before July 1991, when BCCI crashed, 'a far more effective job could have been done'.

And in an apparent criticism of Barbara Mills, head of the SFO when BCCI collapsed and now Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Moscow said: 'Working with the SFO under George Staple (Mrs Mills' successor) is something we look forward to doing - he has a far broader view of the world.'

After yesterday's sentence Mr Dickson agreed there had been blips in the relationship with the Americans but said they were in the past.

Sentencing Imam, 42, of Edgware, north London, who was convicted last week after a three-month trial on charges of conspiracy to falsify records, conspiracy to conceal documents and furnishing false information, Judge Pownall said he played a key role in the 'stupendous fraud' that led to the multi-million-pound collapse of BCCI.