Lawyer faces US extradition sought in BCCI

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The Independent Online
A British lawyer has been indicted on charges of illegally concealing evidence related to the inquiry into the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, prosecutors said in New York.They are seeking his extradition from Britain.

The Manhattan District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau, said David Sandy, a partner at the London law firm Simmons & Simmons, was charged with two felony counts of tampering with evidence and a misdemeanor count of conspiracy for allegedly trying to keep evidence from a grand jury investigating the conduct of BCCI.

Simmons & Simmons refused to comment.The firm acted as advisers to the government of Abu Dhabi, which owns 77 per cent of BCCI, following the bank's closure by regulators in 1991. Abu Dhabi took on the firm and Macfarlanes, a rival City practice, last December.

Simmons & Simmons stopped work on the account in the last few weeks, partly on concern over the US prosecutor's attitude to Mr Sandy, according to sources close to the emirate.

The indictment alleged that Mr Sandy illegally concealed printed and computer-disk versions of the business diary of Zafar Iqbal, the chief executive of BCCI, when it was closed down four years ago amid evidence of multi-million-pound fraud.The indictment said six other people took part in the conspiracy but no one else was being charged.

Mr Morgenthau said Mr Sandy, 40, had so far declined to appear voluntarily before the court in New York.

The felony charges each carry a maximum prison term of up to four years.