Naviede jury considers verdict

DAVID HELLIER

The jury in the fraud case at the Old Bailey against Muhammed Naviede, former chairman of Arrows, a trade finance company that collapsed owing about pounds 100m, was yesterday sent out to consider its verdict.

Mr Naviede faces eight separate charges in a case brought to court by the Serious Fraud Office, following an investigation by the City of London police.

In his final direction yesterday, Judge Hawkins QC told the jury not to convict the defendant on any charge unless they were absolutely sure of his guilt. His summing up of the case lasted more than four days.

Mr Naviede, who chose to defend himself as a litigant in person throughout the trial, stands accused of defrauding banks by secretly diverting money loaned by them to Arrows into unsecured property deals rather than into fully insured trade finance transactions.

The prosecution argued that if the banks had known their money was being used to finance short-term uninsured property speculation they would not have agreed to provide the credit.

Judge Hawkins reminded the jury that it had been alleged that false presentations led the banks to grant facilities that they would not otherwise have made and that Mr Naviede had acted dishonestly.

He said that the jury, in considering its verdict, had to make sure that "there has been no collaboration between the banks or any contamination of evidence". He said that it must make sure that there was an "underlying unity of evidence".

"The defendant has asserted that his downfall and that of the company was caused by the Bank of England contacting other banks with detrimental information about Arrows. The defence says that you can not be sure that there has been no contamination or collaboration between the banks."

The trial, in a courtroom directly beneath that housing the Maxwell trial, has lasted six months.

The Serious Fraud Office first began its investigation of Arrows in July 1990, almost a year before the company collapsed.

The jury heard how the investigation had begun while Arrows was still in business and it heard how police officers at the time noted the difficulties in undertaking such an inquiry when a company was still trading.

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