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Fraudster jailed 25 years after his crime 15 March 2011

Vasant Jethanand Advani, a British and Nigerian passport holder, was unable to be prosecuted until now because he left the jurisdiction for west Africa in either late 1986 or early 1987.

He returned many years later for medical reasons and was finally sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on March 15 for 14 counts of dishonesty, including 10 counts of false accounting.

Advani was one of several suspects in a wide ranging investigation which followed the collapse of Johnson Mathey Bank.

One strand of the investigation looked into Advani’s business operations. His companies included the Grovebell Group and the Staxford Group, administered from his office at Boston House in the City of London.

In 1980 the Grovebell Group acquired a Manchester firm, Hills Garages, whose business included the sale, modification and conversion of commercial vehicles. The offences relate to finance applications for such work.

By 1986 the group of companies had got into difficulties and Lloyds Bank withdrew its banking arrangements and the business was placed into voluntary liquidation.

The liquidator reported concerns about the probity of the activities of Advani’s companies and a criminal investigation ensued.

The fraud arose out of the obtaining of finance from the financing division of General Motors and from the United Finance Group.

The money was for two of Advani’s companies, Rotex (part of Staxstead Group) and Grovebell Trading, supposedly to buy 18 Bedford chassis cabs from Hills Garage, each one fitted out with a refrigerated box body and hydraulic tail lift by Hills Garage.

The vehicles, it was claimed, were for transportation of chilled Indian food. Documents were created to show false details about the vehicles and the conversion work done to them.

The fact was that only two vehicles had been fully modified as claimed. Finance obtained by this deception amounted in 1985 to over £484,000, which when factored to take inflation into account represents nearly £1.44m today.

Two directors of Hills Garage were convicted in 1988 after admitting their fraudulent involvement. Another was acquitted. Advani had already left the country and was known to have gone initially to Togo and then to Nigeria but endeavours to extradite him failed.

In 2007, following a stroke, his family arranged for him to have medical treatment in the UK.

Once Advani was in a suitably improved condition he was arrested, interviewed and charged in 2008.



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