Two Balli Steel executives convicted for their roles in a years-long trade finance fraud have been ordered to pay a combined £466,000 to the UK’s anti-graft agency.  

Ex-Balli Steel CEO Nasser Alaghband and former group treasurer Melis Erda were jailed in April over their roles in a US$150mn fraud by the UK-based steel trading company against its lenders, including Bank ABC, DBS, KBC, Rabobank and The Economy Bank. 

Court orders seen by GTR, dated December 1, show Justice Michael Hopmeier ordered Alaghband to pay £103,000 in confiscation. Erda was ordered to pay £171,000 plus an additional sum in costs towards the trial and SFO investigation. Louise Worsell, who ran Balli’s business in the Middle East, will face a confiscation hearing in January, the SFO says.  

Alaghband pleaded guilty in 2022, while Erda and Worsell were convicted by a jury at London’s Southwark Crown Court in January.   

The five-month trial heard the primary benefit received by Erda and Worsell from the fraud were what the SFO describes as their “large” salaries. 

In Alaghband’s case, the SFO says funds were withdrawn from Balli’s accounts and “used to pay for luxury lifestyles, including a £70,000 rental property near Cannes for the CEO’s personal use and his membership of an exclusive golf resort in the south of France”. 

The court orders show the judge deemed the pair to have lived “criminal lifestyles”.   

“Following our successful prosecution, my team uncovered secret Swiss bank accounts and offshore trusts used to try to conceal the proceeds of this huge fraud,” SFO director Nick Ephgrave said in a statement 

“A prison sentence is hugely significant but not the end of our work. We have the tools, the expertise and the determination to find and seize money made through fraud and hit criminals in their pockets.” 

Balli Steel collapsed in 2013 owing more than £328m to creditors across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The trial heard how after decades of profitable trading, by at least mid-2012 the company faced a growing black hole in its books and resorted to concocting fake trades and telling “increasingly egregious” lies to its banks. 

At the direction of Alaghband, the company falsified transaction and shipping documents, as well as financial information, to entice banks to open letters of credit for steel trades.  

Alaghband and Erda have six months to pay the sum, the SFO says.  

The headline and article was amended on December 8, 2023 to correct that the SFO secured confiscation orders from the two Balli executives. It previously said the executives were ordered to pay “compensation”.