Virani 'inflated BCCI profits': Court told of issue of false documents

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The Independent Online
NAZMUDIN VIRANI, the former head of the property group Control Securities, inflated the profits of the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International by issuing false documents that showed his group owed the bank millions, it was alleged on the first day of his trial at the Old Bailey yesterday.

In return, Mr Virani was granted huge loans by BCCI and given big cash payments, said Anthony Hacking QC, on behalf of the Serious Fraud Office.

As head of Control Securities in 1987 Mr Virani had accepted an investment of pounds 36m by BCCI, which enabled his company to expand its property operations.

BCCI also gave Mr Virani pounds 1.6m in cash, the court was told.

One cashier was astonished to see a payment of pounds 204,761 in pounds 50, pounds 20 and pounds 10 notes made to Mr Virani at BCCI's head office in Leadenhall Street, London on 16 September 1987.

The notes were put in a suitcase and taken by Mr Virani's chauffeur to his waiting Rolls-Royce, Mr Hacking said.

'The cashier, who had formerly worked at Barclays Bank, had never seen anything quite like it before,' Mr Hacking said.

Mr Virani, whose family fled to Britain in 1972 from Uganda, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud, theft, false accounting and to 11 charges of furnishing false information to the collapsed bank's auditors, Price Waterhouse. The conspiracy charges concerned the period from August 1987 to July 1991.

Mohammed Haque, who allegedly worked closely with Mr Virani in his dealings with BCCI, would also have faced criminal proceedings if he had not fled to Pakistan, which has no extradition treaty with the UK, Mr Hacking said.

The court heard that Mr Virani, of Chartfield Avenue, Putney, south-west London, possessed business skills that enabled him to become a very wealthy man with all the trappings. He was spectacularly successful in his property dealings during the 1980s.

The trial was adjourned until today and is expected to last about three months.

The liquidators of BCCI have launched a writ understood to be for pounds 800m against the three Gokal brothers and several other individuals who headed the Gulf shipping group, one of BCCI's biggest borrowers.

Fred Goodwin, part of Touche Ross's team of liquidators in the UK, said the writ had been served but refused to confirm the figure.

Gulf International, the group's Luxembourg-based holding company, is in liquidation in Luxembourg.

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