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Fraud probe at County?


The Serious Fraud Office is considering whether to launch an investigation into how Notts County FC was taken over by a convicted fraudster. 

Two years ago the club was 'gifted' by the supporters' trust to Munto Finance, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and claiming to be from the Middle East.   It promised significant investment in the club, but these promises turned out to be a sham.   Russell King, the man allegedly behind the deal, served a jail sentence for insurance fraud in the 1990s.

BBC's Panorama programme (UK viewers only until 29th April) has claimed that Mr King underpinned his Notts County deal by obtaining 49 per cent of a London investment bank called First London plc.   He did this by convincing its shareholders that he was responsible for billions of dollars held by Bahrain's royal family.   First London went into administration in June 2010, owing £7.1m.

Sven Goran Eriksson was lured to Notts County to be its director of football with a contract entitling him to shares in Swiss Commodity Holdings.   Eriksson was allegedly told that this was a mining business with assets worth billions of dollars based on rights in North Korea.

Mr Eriksson told Panorma that he took part in a company delegation to North Korea.  He said, 'I was in the palace and they were handing over to the North Korean Government so-called shares.  I asked them how much that was because at the same time we couldn't pay the milk bill at Notts County and what they told me was not millions, it was billions of dollars.   They used my name.  At the end it was a big, big mistake.'

Mr King, now in Bahrain, denied to the BBC any involvement in the running of Notts County, First London or SCH, saying that he was only a consultant.