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Former short-term lender sees arrest warrant dropped

Former bridging financier and property magnate Shaid Luqman has seen a warrant for his arrest scrapped nine years after he fled the country, The Daily Mail reports. 

The warrant was in relation to a charge for the possession of cannabis resin but prosecutors called for it to be dropped as they did not see any prospect of him returning to the country.

Luqman is believed to have fled from Manchester to Pakistan with millions of pounds in cash in June 2011.

Luqman’s firm Lexi Holdings plc, a property finance company based in Manchester, went into administration in 2006 with debts of over £100m.

The business, initially named Pearl Holdings (Europe) Limited, was established by Luqman in 2000 with funding from Barclays Bank.

Lexi entered into a revolving credit facility agreement with Barclays to draw down the required amounts for each transaction and though the bank carried out checks on the running of the agreement there was a great deal of trust involved.

However according to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) “the trust was misplaced”.

The SFO said that monies obtained by Lexi under the agreement were diverted and recycled through various bank accounts held in different names and trading entities which were hidden from the auditors and from Barclays and later a syndicate of banks of which Barclays was the senior partner.

They were also hidden from Lexi’s own internal accountants as the hidden accounts were controlled by a closed circle. The Lexi accounts were doctored to create a false picture of the company’s profitability and creditworthiness.

Money was drained out of the company to family members in Pakistan and included large sums to the brothers’ father, Mohammed Luqman.

There have been High Court civil proceedings brought for the recovery of money against the Luqman family and others which have led to judgments against them in relation to both Lexi plc and an earlier enterprise called Modern Living which collapsed with substantial debts.

An SFO investigation opened in July 2009 saw Luqman’s brother, Waheed Luqman, charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of conspiracy to falsely account.

Luqman, who the SFO branded as “the main perpetrator of the fraud”, fled in before he could be charged.

However today Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court agreed to drop the arrest warrant for Luqman after accepting the prosecutor’s arguments that there was no realistic prospect of him returning to the UK.

The arrest warrant related to the £100m fraud against banks remains in place, and the SFO told Mortgage Introducer it “is committed to bringing Shaid Luqman to the United Kingdom to face justice”.

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