PracticeAccounting FirmsThe corridors of power…

The corridors of power...

I've always been drawn to fraud cases, particularly those in which the miscreant skips the country and has to be dragged back to face the music. The Serious Fraud Office has become particularly good at this sort of bounty-hunting.

The SFO has just claimed the scalp of Charles Forsyth, who built a thriving business in the 1990s selling computers by mail order. He re-used spare parts from returned PCs – then fled the UK after his company went bust. He travelled through Bulgaria, Russia and Indonesia before ending up in Perth, from where he was extradited.

It all takes me back to the early 1990s and the case of Robbie Miller, head of Dunsdale Securities, a London financial adviser. After the firm fell into trouble, Miller went missing for days before handing himself in. It emerged that he had flown to Brazil to see his uncle before deciding to return.

In 2003 we had the case of George Steen, front man for a loan company, Corporate Advances, who skipped in the closing stages of his trial at Southwark Crown Court.

Steen fled to the Philippines, with which the UK has no extradition treaty, but the SFO had him arrested on a technicality and he was flown back in time for sentencing. He got six years.

Then there were those two old bags from Australia, Evelyn Burton and Laila Andre, who made such fools out of British high society. They swanned around in Bentleys, leaving a trail of unpaid bills. Burton and Andre fled to New Zealand in 1997, were extradited to the UK in 2000, and have since been deported to Australia after serving time here in prison.

Like the Mounties, the SFO always gets its man. Unless your name is Asil Nadir.

Jon Ashworth is business features editor at The Times

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