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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 14:35 GMT
Banned businessman fined 200,000
A West End restaurateur and former business partner of celebrity chef Marco Pierre White has been fined 200,000 for illegally running a string of companies.

Oscar Owide, 72, whose interests included Bentley's Seafood Restaurant, used his son and a senior employee as front men for his businesses after being banned from company management.

The former hairdresser pleaded guilty at London's Blackfriars Crown Court on Tuesday to four offences under the Company Directors Disqualification Act.

He was ordered to pay a fine of 50,000 for each of the four offences along with almost 30,000 prosecution costs.

He was also given a further eight years disqualification from company management.

This was a wilful defiance of the law, rather than acting in ignorance of it
James Pavry, prosecuting
For the prosecution, James Pavry told the court Owide was given a seven-year ban from running any companies in February 2000, following civil proceedings brought by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

But the court heard Owide, who had a previous conviction for VAT evasion, continued managing his business interests on a "day-to-day" basis.

Mr Pavry said: "This was a wilful defiance of the law, rather than acting in ignorance of it.

"While the defendant had resigned from his directorships he continued to be concerned in these companies. His involvement was extensive."

Prison threat

Mr Pavry said the businessman also brokered an agreement with Marco Pierre White and club owner Piers Adam to redevelop two Regent Street night spots.

Mr Pierre White later told the DTI he never once suspected the defendant had been disqualified as a director.

Passing sentence Judge John Samuels QC told Owide that following the seven-year disqualification "you simply could not let go of the commercial organisation for which for so many years you were responsible."

He told Owide who lives in St John's Wood Park, St John's Wood, north-west London, and owns properties in Spain, he could stagger payment of the fines over three months, but would have to serve 18 months imprisonment in default.

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