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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Banks hit by $600m fraud
Man with dollars and mobile phone
The men are accused of defrauding high profile banks
Four metal traders have been arrested in the US, charged with running a global multi-million dollar fraud scheme.

The fraud is estimated to have cost major commercial banks $600m (415m).

This is larceny as surely as breaking into the bank vault and hauling off bags of cash

Jim Sheehan
FBI agent
Viren Rastogi, a top British businessman frequently profiled in Britain's Asian rich list, was also arrested in London earlier this month in connection with the scam, but was not charged.

The men, arrested in New Jersey, are accused of stealing from a number of high profile banks including Fleet National Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Dresdner Bank Latinamerica and China Trust Bank.

US government officials have described the operation, which has been operating since May 2000, as a scheme of "astonishing scope and magnitude".


The four are accused of representing their metal companies as brokers, and fabricating business transactions which eventually amassed hundreds of million of dollars.

Prosecutors said the men falsely told banks they were using loans to pay metal suppliers when they were actually wiring the money to their personal accounts.

"This is larceny as surely as breaking into the bank vault and hauling off bags of cash," said Jim Sheehan, acting agent in charge of the FBI's New York office.

The criminal complaint charged the four with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud.

If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison as well as substantial fines.

See also:

14 Mar 02 | Business
AIB report points to rogue trader
07 Feb 02 | Business
AIB and the missing millions
14 Mar 02 | Business
Lehman offers fraud refund
18 Dec 01 | Business
German executives jailed for fraud
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