Man who fled UK after fraud jailed in absence

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The Independent Online

One of the two Luqman brothers being hunted in Pakistan for defrauding Barclays Bank out of £100m has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years in his absence.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court on 16 June convicted Waheed Luqman, 39, of fraud and false accounting at Lexi Holdings, a Manchester bridging loan firm that collapsed in 2009 with debts of more than £120m.

Waheed and his brother Shaid "Lucky" Luqman, 43, who was the Ernst & Young Young Entrepreneur of 2004, are believed to be in Pakistan with their sisters.

Despite an earlier conviction for deception when renting flats to university students, Shaid Luqman obtained loans from Barclays and other high street banks for two bridging loan firms. He lived in a £5m house in Cheshire, operated a private jet and was ranked 238rd on the 2006 Sunday Times Rich List, just before being banned in 2007 from running a company for 15 years. He managed to leave Britain despite being ordered to wear an electronic tag after trying to obtain a replacement passport.

Waheed Luqman was tried in his absence and jailed for seven years and six months for conspiracy to defraud creditors of Pearl Holdings (Europe) Ltd, later known as Lexi Holdings plc, and four years and six months on counts of conspiracy to falsely account. He was also disqualified as a company director for 15 years and ordered to pay the Serious Fraud Office costs of £250,000.

In a statement today, the SFO said: "His brother, Shaid Luqman, the main perpetrator of the fraud, fled the jurisdiction in June 2011 before he could be charged."

Their activities triggered a civil action described by legal authorities as the most important land law decision for a hundred years.

The Yorkshire property developer Trevor Guy has so far failed to reverse a court ruling that allowed Barclays Bank to seize 48 acres of land in Manchester. The land was fraudulently staked against £120m of Barclays loans to Lexi.

The case has involved a re-examination of Land Registry computer procedures for the 21 million British property owners registered on the biggest property computer database in Europe.