Bosses of bridging loans business leave country despite having passports confiscated and wearing electronic tags
Two multimillionaire brothers from Manchester, who are said to have defrauded £100m from the property loans business they ran, have fled the UK despite having had their passports confiscated, wearing electronic tags and having their worldwide assets subject to a freezing order.
Shaid and Waheed Luqman built their bridging loans business Lexi Holdings into a purported £300m empire after borrowing from Barclays Bank. They are believed to have absconded to Pakistan.
They have been pursued by the Serious Fraud Office for four years, but Shaid Luqman fled before he could be charged and his brother escaped later.
Waheed Luqman was on Thursday sentenced to seven and a half years in jail after being found guilty in absentia by a jury at Manchester crown court earlier in the week.
Shaid Luqman, a former Ernst & Young “young entrepreneur of the year”, had been ordered by the courts to wear an electronic tag two years ago after he made inquiries about obtaining a new passport to replace one confiscated by investigators.
This was not enough to stop the entrepreneur, who had a fortune estimated in the Sunday Times Rich List at £250m, escaping two months later.
Meanwhile, bail conditions relating to Waheed Luqman, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail in 2010 for attempting to conceal bank accounts, included the surrender of British and Pakistani passports, an electronic tag, a nighttime curfew and a requirement to report three times a week to a police station.
Two months after his brother’s departure, the SFO had been pressing the courts to remand Waheed in custody when he, too, slipped away.
Administrators from KPMG were appointed to Lexi in 2006 after Barclays received no response to demands for loan repayments. A month later, the administrators told Barclays and other creditors: “Immediately upon appointment, [we] attended the company’s premises in Manchester to secure the site and take control of the business. Upon arrival it was clear that the premises had been vacated and that none of the books or records remained.”
Later, creditors were told that freezing orders totalling more than £260m had been obtained by administrators against the worldwide assets of Luqman brothers and relations.
Lexi had drawn down loans from Barclays purportedly linked to bridging loan deals. According to the SFO, however, the funds were diverted and hidden from auditors. “Money was drained out of the company to family members in Pakistan and included large sums to the brothers’ father, Mohammed Luqman,” the SFO said.
“Though [Barclays] carried out checks on the running of the agreement [with Lexi], there was a great deal of trust involved. Unfortunately, that trust was misplaced.”
Lexi’s last published accounts show it had short-term bank loans and overdrafts of £118m at the end of 2004. Barclays had sold on much of its exposure to other lenders through a syndication deal.It is not the first time major fraud suspects have fled to Pakistan. The late founder of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International Aga Hassan Abedi fled there as the bank collapsed 1991 and successfully resisted extradiction requests until he died four years later. Abbas Gokal, one of BCCI’s biggest customers and a close friend of Abedi also fled to Pakistan, but was arrested by the SFO six years later when on a plane which stopped in Frankfurt. Tried and convicted on his return to the UK, he was sentenced to 14 years in jail.
Britain’s best known absconder was Asil Nadir, the former boss of failed FTSE 100 conglomerate Polly Peck, who fled to Northern Cyprus for 17 years before returning voluntarily. He is alleged to have embezzled £380m and was convicted and sentenced last year to 10 years in jail.
Billionaire investor has bought a 4.5% shareholding in Manchester-based business, which is valued at £267.6m
A car dealership with 69 sites has caught the eye of billionaire investor George Soros, who has bought a 4.5% stake in the business. The 82-year-old, famous for his £10bn bet against the exchange rate mechanism in 1992, acquired the shares in Lookers via Soros Fund Management.
Soros made the move in the week that the Manchester-based company’s second biggest shareholder sold the 17.3% stake it assembled during an unsuccessful attempt to buy the business last year.
Lookers, which owns the Charles Hurst brand in Northern Ireland and Taggarts in Scotland, was valued at £267.6m on the stock market on Friday, putting a £12m price tag on the Soros holding.
Soros recently took a near 8% stake in Manchester United, invested in Facebook and increased his stake in Google.
The sale of the Lookers stake built up by Trefick, the vehicle of veteran investor Jack Petchey, increased liquidity in the dealership group’s shares.
Schemes have only enriched security companies including G4S, says officer as ministers prepare another £3bn worth of contracts
Nearly £1bn has been spent on the electronic tagging of criminals over the past 13 years with little effect on cutting offending rates, offering little value for money and serving only to enrich two or three private security companies, one of which is G4S, a senior police officer has claimed.
Chris Miller, a former expert on tagging at the Association of Chief Police Officers, who stood down as Hertfordshire’s assistant chief constable last year, said that much of the potential of electronic monitoring to keep communities safe in Britain has not been realised.
“The current contracting arrangements for electronic monitoring have all but squeezed innovation out of the picture and stifled progress,” he writes in a foreword to a report by the Policy Exchange thinktank published on Monday.
“Electronic tag technology used in most cases today is hardly any different from what it was in 1989, when it was first used in the UK. The future arrangements must not be allowed to continue to hold us back,” writes Miller. He says the problem has centred on a “sclerotic, centrally controlled, top-down system that has enriched two or three large suppliers, that lacks the innovation and flexibility of international comparators and that fails to demonstrate either that it is value for money or that it does anything to reduce offending”.
The Ministry of Justice has spent £963m on tagging contracts over the past 13 years. Two companies, Serco and G4S, have taken the bulk of the work, putting ankle and wrist tags on more than 100,000 offenders every year, mainly to monitor their compliance with night-time curfew orders which do little to cut reoffending during the day.
Ministry officials are about to invite bids for contracts for the next nine years, thought to be worth up to £3bn. The Policy Exchange report, Future of Corrections, says one in four police forces regards electronic tagging as ineffective.
“In the US there are a number of localised suppliers, meaning that the police and probation service are given the most up to date GPS technology to track the movements of a criminal 24/7,” said Rory Geoghegan, the report’s author.
He said in the US ankle bracelets had become smaller, smarter and more durable and were GPS-enabled so that police can pinpoint offenders’ locations at all times, but the lack of competition in Britain meant the taxpayer was losing out.
“We desperately need to create a real market so that the police can get the technology they need to cut burglary, cut robbery and other crimes that have a massive impact on victims and community,” he said.
Miller said that, as Hertfordshire’s head of crime, he had tried satellite tracking technology for prolific offenders, polygraph testing of internet child pornography users, and alcohol diversion programmes for those caught drunk in public places. But each initiative had been greeted in Whitehall with reactions ranging from incredulity to downright obstruction.
The Policy Exchange pamphlet argues that the police and crime commissioners due to be elected in November should be given the power to decide how much money, if any, is spent on tagging and who should provide the services.
Fri, Jun 29, 2012 06:54 – TAG Oil Ltd. (TAOIF: OTC Link) released their Supplemental Information concerning Material Change Report. To read the complete report, please visit: https://www.otciq.com/otciq/ajax/showFinancialReportById.pdf?id=85278.
Link: TAG Oil Ltd. (TAOIF: OTC Link) | Supplemental Information
Tesla Motors (TSLA -4.5%) sold off after the Street failed to be impressed by the unveiling (video) of its Model X crossover, gull-wing doors and all. The Model X, a niche product even within the luxury car market until vehicle charging stations become more widespread, won’t enter production until 2013, and will carry a price tag between $50K and $75K. 4 comments!
Read the rest here: Tesla Motors ([[TSLA]] -4.5%) sold off after the Street failed to be impressed by the unveiling (video) of its Model X crossover, gull-wing doors and all. The Model X, a niche product even within the luxury car market until vehicle charging stations…