The curtain has opened on what may be the
closing act in a multinational fraud case involving India-born
brothers Virendra and Narendra Rastogi, dozens of associates,
two wives, a mistress, their defunct metals trading companies
and losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
In the first weeks of a trial that could last
four months, the prosecution laid out its case against Virendra
Rastogi, former chief executive of RBG Resources Plc, and three
associates in a courthouse in London. All four pleaded not
guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud.
Richard Latham told the court that Rastogi
spent years convincing banks in Britain and the United States
to lend money based on fraudulent transactions, while RBG
conducted a number of legitimate deals as nothing more than a
cover to satisfy auditors and due-diligence inquiries.
Rastogi was helped by his brother in the
United States, who was at the helm of a similar operation
there, Allied Deals Inc.
RBG collapsed in 2002 with debts of about
$445 million. Its failure followed that of Allied Deals, which
eventually led to the trial and conviction on fraud charges of
several principals and staff at that company.
Narendra Rastogi, who pleaded guilty to U.S.
charges-as did Jaspreet "Soniya" Basra, company secretary and
admitted forger, and Anil Anand, Allied Deals' chief financial
officer-all did star turns on the witness stand for the
prosecution, and all were grilled by a defense team determined
to show that Virendra was a victim of his older brother's greed