Fraud Office ends Sumitomo case

THE SERIOUS Fraud Office has ended its two-year investigation into the Sumitomo copper trading scandal, the world's largest ever corporate fraud loss. "The investigation is closed as of today... we have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to justify criminal proceedings in this country," an SFO spokeswoman said yesterday.

The SFO started its pounds 800,000 inquiry in June 1996, just days after Japan's Sumitomo revealed its star copper trader, Yasuo Hamanaka, had run up losses totalling $2.6bn over 10 years. Hamanaka was convicted of fraud and forgery in March this year and jailed for eight years.

If further action is to be taken, it will have to be on the regulatory front, or on the London Metal Exchange, where much of the business was carried out, a senior trader said. The Financial Services Authority yesterday confirmed it is continuing its investigation, also started in June 1996.

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