Court allows extradition order for ex-Wardley chief: Hong Kong alleges banker took pounds 4m bribes in exchange for loans

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The Independent Online
Ewan Launder, formerly chief executive of Wardley, the merchant banking arm of Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, was formally recommended for extradition to stand trial in Hong Kong.

Mr Launder faces charges that he accepted bribes of pounds 4m from two Hong Kong executives. In exchange, it is alleged, Mr Launder authorised pounds 83m of loans.

One of the alleged bribes involves loans to George Tan's Carrian Group, which grew from nothing to become one of the 10 biggest companies in Hong Kong before it collapsed in 1983 with debts of more than pounds 660m.

The Carrian affair has been one of Hong Kong's biggest corporate scandals, but many in the colony feel that justice has not been done. The investigation has already cost more than HKdollars 100m ( pounds 8.8m).

Hongkong and Shanghai Bank was the second largest lender to Carrian, which was advised by Wardley. Mr Launder, previously with Slater Walker, resigned from Wardley after the Carrian crash. Mr Launder is considered the main figure in Hongkong Bank's relationship with the group.

In 1983 Mr Launder set up Quail Investment in London before leaving to set up business in former East Germany.

He was arrested at Heathrow airport in September 1993 after a six- year chase covering three continents.

Yesterday the magistrate at Bow Street in London, Ronald Bartle, told Mr Launder he would be granted bail pending the Home Secretary's final decision on the matter.

Roy Amlott, for Mr Launder, said he would be appealing against the magistrate's decision in the High Court before the Home Secretary gave his ruling.

Carrian was formed from a shell listed company in 1979, and became a big property investor in the early 1980s. From the beginning Wardley was its financial adviser and financier.

Criminal charges were brought against Mr Tan, his associate Bentley Ho, and two partners of Price Waterhouse - Carrian's accountants - but the charges were dropped in 1987.

Since Carrian's crash, a Malaysian investigator into the scandal has been murdered and, in 1984 a lawyer connected with the company committed suicide, being found at the bottom of a swimming pool with a manhole cover around his neck.

Four years later Stewart Turner, who was formerly with Barclays Asia, was found guilty of accepting bribes connected to a loan for Carrian.

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