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Thursday, March 11, 1999 Published at 16:34 GMT


Jailed tycoon loses BCCI fraud appeal

The BCCI was closed around the world in 1991

A jailed shipping tycoon has lost his appeal against his conviction in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) fraud case.

The Court of Appeal said the evidence against Pakistani tycoon Abbas Gokal was "overwhelming", and he was at the heart of a fraud "with international consequences of great gravity".

Gokal, 62, was convicted at the Old Bailey in 1997 and is serving a 14-year sentence.

He was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud and one count of conspiracy to account falsely, in a scheme which funnelled £750m out of the bank.

At the sentencing, the judge said his actions had threatened the integrity of the entire international banking system.

Extradition claim 'unfounded'

The main basis of Gokal's appeal was the circumstances in which he was brought within the British jurisdiction.

Gokal was arrested in July 1994 in Frankfurt, Germany, and extradited to Britain in December of that year.

He claimed the indictment against him should have been "stayed as an abuse of the process of the court".

The Court of Appeal said this claim was unfounded.

Gokal's other grounds of appeal included that the evidence of BCCI depositors was wrongly admitted and that the trial judge's summing up was unfair towards him. Both claims were rejected.

Gokal also appealed against his sentence - the steepest of its kind to be handed out by a British court.

As well as his jail term, Gokal was ordered to pay £2.9m out of his personal assets within two years, or face another three years in prison.

The Court of Appeal said this was "correct".

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