LONDON (Reuters) - A 66-year-old convicted fraudster, who twice failed to turn up to court in the United Kingdom to be sentenced and fled to the United States, has finally been jailed 22 years after the case was opened.


Shariq Chughtai, who helped run three UK trading companies, pleaded guilty to a so-called long firm fraud in July 1998 and was sentenced in absentia to four years in jail in 1999, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Tuesday.


Once he had been tracked down, the SFO started extradition proceedings with the United States in 2015 and he was returned to the United Kingdom last week to start his sentence, which was extended by three months for skipping bail.


In long firm scams, fraudsters win the trust of wholesale suppliers with a series of small orders. The fraudsters then place large orders on credit, shield their whereabouts by having goods delivered to third-party addresses, and sell them on without ever paying the supplier.


Four other defendants in the same scheme were sentenced to jail in 1999 and have long since been released from jail.


SFO cases can be delayed for years when suspects abscond. One of the agency's most notable recent successes was the 2012 conviction of Turkish Cypriot mogul Asil Nadir for fraud 19 years after he fled the United Kingdom.

Nadir was found guilty of stealing millions of pounds from Polly Peck International (PPI), a global trading conglomerate and stock market darling in the 1980s that he built and led. The firm collapsed in 1990.

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; editing by David Clarke)