SFO issues arrest warrant for Regan over abortive Co-op bid

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The Independent Online

THE SERIOUS Fraud Office yesterday issued a warrant for the arrest of Andrew Regan, the failed corporate raider behind the abortive £1.2bn bid for Co-operative Wholesale Society in 1997.

THE SERIOUS Fraud Office yesterday issued a warrant for the arrest of Andrew Regan, the failed corporate raider behind the abortive £1.2bn bid for Co-operative Wholesale Society in 1997.

The decision to issue the warrant follows unsuccessful attempts by the SFO over the past few weeks to persuade Mr Regan to return to the UK from Monaco to face questioning in connection with a supply agreement between CWS and Hobson, a company owned by Mr Regan.

Sources close to Mr Regan, who has repeatedly asserted his innocence through his lawyer, indicated yesterday that he had no plans to return. Unless Mr Regan changes his mind, it is likely the SFO will seek to bring extradition proceedings against him to have him brought back to Britain.

The SFO had planned to charge him at the same time as Alan Green and David Chambers, two Co-op executives who were charged with corruption on 21 September. The warrant is for theft - a charge that would be covered by the extradition treaty with Monaco.

The SFO inquiry centred on an alleged £2.485m payment by Hobson to CWS for the extension of a supply agreement in 1995. It is alleged that £2.4m of that was funnelled through Trellis, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and administered in Switzerland. The SFO alleges that Mr Green and Mr Chambers accepted £1m each as an inducement to extend the supply agreement with Hobson.

Paul Thomas, a solicitor who acted for Hobson in drawing up the agreement with Trellis, has been charged with aiding and abetting. The three have been bailed to appear at Bow Street Magistrates Court on 21 January 2000.

No charges have been brought against Ronald Zimet, the former chairman of Freepages, now Scoot, who is believed to have been behind Trellis, and who is understood to have fully cooperated with the inquiry.

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