GT Review reported that collapsed UK headquartered Anglo-Iranian steel trader Balli Steel’s former treasury chief Ms Melis Erda, who was employed by London-headquartered Balli Steel from 1997 until it entered administration in early 2013, has pleaded not guilty to one count of fraudulent trading and six counts of conspiring to defraud trade finance lenders Bank ABC, DBS Bank, KBC, Rabobank and The Economy Bank, which was later acquired by BNP Paribas. Ms Erda told a jury in London that she did not know that the company allegedly created fake shipping and sales documents and deceived banks in order to secure trade finance as the company battled a liquidity crunch. Ms Erda told the court that during 2012 she was undergoing several tests and procedures attempting to diagnose and treat a serious illness, which distracted her from her job. Ms Erda told “I was ill. I wasn’t in the office most of the time. My mind was busy with something else. I was forwarding emails [from banks] to traders including Nasser and he was sending me updates on each deal and I was sending them back to the banks. There was no reason for me to believe they were doing any false, fake documents.” Ms Erda is the first defendant to give evidence in the trial, which began at Southwark Crown Court in September and is expected to conclude later this month or in early February. The directors brothers Mr Vahid Alaghband 70 & Mr Nasser Alaghband 61 and David Spriddell 60 along with senior employees Louise Worsell 67 and Ms Melis Erda 56, were allegedly part of a scheme to induce trade finance banks to carry on lending money to keep the company going. Except Balli’s former CEO Mr Nasser Alaghband, who pled guilty last year to one count of fraudulent trading, they are also on trial for various counts of conspiracy to defraud and fraudulent trading. Balli Steel collapsed owing more than GBP 328 million to creditors and following a years-long investigation, the Serious Fraud Office alleges that the company’s directors were engaged in widespread and systematic fraud and financial misconduct. The SFO alleges the four individuals enticed trade finance banks to lend by using fake documents or other means to fabricate transactions where no steel was actually being traded, or lied to banks about payments that had not been received when in fact they had been. False documents are said to have been used to secure short-term loans which were meant to be repaid when Balli sold on steel. Balli Steel was kept going by the obtaining of further trade finance. This trade finance was used to repay outstanding amounts on previous trade finance loans. In this way, the lack of profitable trade or latterly any trade at all was hidden from the trade finance banks. To put it colloquially, a time came when those involved in obtaining and extending trade finance at Balli Steel were effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul.