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Balli Steel directors to pay £466k after multimillion pound fraud

Balli Steel directors to pay £466k after multimillion pound fraud
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

The Serious Fraud Office has secured a confiscation order worth £466,000 from two Balli Steel plc executives who are currently in prison after being found guilty of a multimillion pound fraud

Southwark Crown Court has ordered Balli Steel CEO Nasser Alaghband, who is serving a jail term, to pay over £100,000, while Melis Erda, group treasurer will have to pay £350,000. This follows ongoing investigations by the SFO proceeds of crime team.

The executives have six months to pay the confiscation orders or face an additional prison sentence.

In April 2023, Alaghband was jailed for six and a half years, while Louise Worsell, managing director of the Middle East division of Balli Steel, and Melis Erda, group treasurer, were each jailed for three years in prison for defrauding over 20 banks and securing loans worth half a billion dollars.

Balli Steel bought and sold steel around the world using short-term loans from trade finance banks to fund deals. The company collapsed in 2013, having amassed debts of around $500m (£400m) to over 20 creditor banks, triggering an investigation by the SFO.

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SFO investigators discovered that the executives benefitted personally from the frauds they perpetrated by paying themselves large salaries and drawing additional funds from the company.

These monies were used to pay for luxury lifestyles, including a £70,000 rental property near Cannes for the CEO’s personal use and his membership of an exclusive golf resort in the south of France.

The SFO also uncovered that many of the falsified documents were produced under the name of an in-house shipping company, Trans Ocean Navigation (TON). It was concealed from Balli’s creditors that TON was not an independent shipper but controlled by Balli, was registered at a residential address in the Cayman Islands and was operated from Balli’s own London offices in Marylebone.

Nick Ephgrave QPM, director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said: ‘Following our successful prosecution, my team uncovered secret Swiss bank accounts and offshore trusts used to try to conceal the proceeds of this huge fraud.

‘A prison sentence is hugely significant but not the end of our work. We have the tools, the expertise and the determination to find and seize money made through fraud and hit criminals in their pockets.’

The SFO’s investigation into Louise Worsell is ongoing. The case will return to court on 4 January.

For more information on dealing with fraud in the workplace, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Can I dismiss someone for fraud?

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