Baqi fined pounds 120,000 on BCCI charges: Former oil chief who was used by others is a 'broken man' after conviction

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The Independent Online
A FORMER oil company managing director was fined pounds 120,000 plus pounds 50,000 costs yesterday for helping the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International to exaggerate its profits and deceive auditors checking its financial health, writes John Willcock.

Mohammed Abdul Baqi, 68, must pay the fine and costs within 28 days. The former managing director of Attock Oil was found guilty of six counts of conspiring to furnish false information, and not guilty on one count.

Attock Oil was an important client of BCCI. Mr Baqi had signed a series of letters confirming that his company owed around pounds 60m to BCCI, Mr Brian Barker QC, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey.

But the letters 'were untrue and insupportable and would clearly affect the approach of auditors assessing the financial position of the bank,' Mr Barker said.

The Common Serjeant of London, Judge Neil Denison, said he would not send Baqi to jail as he accepted that he had acted under pressure and was 'used by men far more powerful than you - and those men have escaped justice'.

The judge said that until these offences Baqi had been 'a man of exemplary character who had a long and distinguished career in the oil industry'. He accepted that he had no intention to inflict loss on others, nor had he gained financial advantage for himself.

Baqi was now a 'broken man' in poor health, his counsel, Mr Stephen Solley, QC, said.

He could no longer realistically afford to live in Britain on what remained of his savings and intended to return to his native Pakistan to live out his retirement.

Baqi was arrested and charged by police officers acting for the Serious Fraud Office on 5 February 1992. His trial started on 10 January 1994.

It emerged during the trial that a tip-off about the manipulation of Attock Oil's accounts prompted BCCI's auditors, Price Waterhouse, to launch an investigation into the bank. This subsequently formed the basis for the worldwide closure of BCCI by regulators, including the Bank of England.

The warrant is still out for the arrest of Basheer Chowdry, allegedly a co-conspirator of Baqi. Mr Chowdry is now living in Pakistan.

Thirteen senior managers of BCCI are now on trial in Abu Dhabi on a range of charges including false accounting and theft. Sources expect the trial, which began at Christmas 1993, to end by April.