Five people are due to appear in a UK court on Tuesday over allegations of fraud in a prosecution brought by the Serious Fraud Office relating to the collapse of Balli, the Anglo-Iranian steel trader.
Nasser Alaghband, the former chief executive, and four other individuals, face eight charges including six of conspiracy to defraud, according to a court list issued on Tuesday by Westminster magistrates court, London.
The SFO has been investigating the activities of Balli Group, Balli Steel and Balli Trading for the past three years, each in connection with suspected fraud offences. It made several arrests in 2017 as part of its probe into the collapse of the group that appointed administrators in 2013.
The fraud charges relate to allegations about letters of credit and documents issued by banks to fund the purchase of steel by Balli.
Norman Lamont, a former chancellor of the exchequer and ex-trade envoy to Iran and chair of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce, was a former director of Balli Group. Lord Lamont has not been arrested or charged.
The SFO asked administrators Deloitte not to dissolve Balli Group and related companies while it was investigating. According to a progress report filed by Deloitte in August, the cost of its work had risen to almost £3.3m for Balli Group, £1.2m for Balli Steel and almost £90,000 for Balli Trading. Deloitte said it had been tasked with assisting the SFO in its probe.
The High Court granted a two-year extension to the company’s administration in September 2018, according to Deloitte.
The new allegations come as Lisa Osofsky, director of the SFO, has recently defended her record of investigations and the agency’s lack of criminal prosecutions.
In a speech to the online Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime this month, Ms Osofsky said that since becoming SFO director she had been unafraid to drop certain investigations.
“Where a case is not going to meet the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, it is our responsibility to close it,” she told the online event. “Frankly, ageing cases are not good for prosecutors either,” she added.
Get alerts on Serious Fraud Office UK when a new story is published