Indian origin man jailed in UK for fraud

Vasant Jethanand Advani, 67, was sentenced after admitting to the fraud, including 10 counts of false accounting, at the Croydon Crown Court last week.

He has also been disqualified from acting as a company director.Advani, a British and Nigerian passport holder, who left the UK in late 1986, was one of a number of suspects in a wide ranging investigation which followed the collapse of Johnson Mathey Bank.
The fraud involved claims made in the process of buying vehicles to transport Indian food.
One strand of the investigation looked into Advani's business operations, officials said.
According to Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Advani's companies included the Grovebell Group and the Staxford Group, administered from his office at Boston House in the City of London.

In 1980, the Grovebell Group had acquired a Manchester firm, Hills Garages Ltd, whose business included the sale, modification and conversion of commercial vehicles.
The offences relate to finance applications for such work.

By 1986, the group of companies had got into difficulties and Lloyds Bank withdrew its banking arrangements and the business was placed into voluntary liquidation.
The liquidator reported some concerns about the probity of the activities of Advani's companies and a criminal investigation ensued.

The fraud arose out of the obtaining of finance from the financing division of General Motors and from the United Finance Group Ltd.

The money was for two of Advani's companies, Rotex Ltd (part of Staxstead Group) and Grovebell Trading, supposedly to buy 18 Bedford chassis cabs from Hills Garage Ltd, each one fitted out with a refrigerated box body and hydraulic tail lift by Hills Garage Ltd.
The vehicles, it was claimed, were for transportation of chilled Indian food.    Documents were created to show false details about the vehicles and the conversion work done to them.

The fact was that only two vehicles had been fully modified as claimed.

Finance obtained by this deception amounted in 1985 to over 484,000 pounds, which when factored to take inflation into account represents nearly 1.44 million pounds today. Two directors of Hills Garage Ltd were convicted in 1988 after admitting their fraudulent involvement.

Advani had already left the country and was known to have gone initially to Togo and then to Nigeria but endeavours to extradite him failed.

In 2007, following a stroke, his family arranged for him to have medical treatment in the UK.

Once Advani was in a suitably improved condition he was arrested, interviewed and charged on 25 January 2008.

In addition to the indictment of 14 counts that relate to the admitted fraud outlined above, he was charged on two further indictments in relation to various other offences of dishonesty discovered in other companies under his control.

The SFO is a government department responsible for investigating and prosecuting serious and complex fraud.

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