SFO’s Balli Steel win latest to leverage international cooperation
The U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) on Feb. 2 announced it secured the convictions of two executives at failed British steel trading business Balli Steel on six counts of fraud.
Balli Steel depended on short-term loans from trade finance banks so it could buy and sell steel globally. It collapsed in 2013 owing more than 20 banks about $500 million. The SFO found the executives provided the banks with misleading information, false shipping documents, and forged signatures on fake sales contracts to make the company’s balance sheet look more attractive to secure cash.
One of the notable aspects of the investigation was it involved—in the SFO’s own words—a “record-breaking degree of international cooperation.” The agency said it made 30 requests for evidence to law enforcement agencies in 25 different countries—more than any previous investigation—and worked with counterparts in the Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United States.