Invest NI has no record of Lalani ‘inside information’

Investment Minister Arlene Foster with former 'investment ambassador' Hanif Lalani.
Investment Minister Arlene Foster with former 'investment ambassador' Hanif Lalani.

Invest NI says it has no written record from its former ‘Investment Ambassador’ Hanif Lalani in relation to a huge fine imposed on him by the French Autorité des Marchés Financiers for transmitting ‘inside information’ back in 2007.

The former BT Northern Ireland chief, who received an OBE for his services to business here in 2003, was appointed to the ambassadorial role in August 2010.

But it’s since emerged that Mr Lalani was the subject of an investigation by the AMF at the time of his appointment.

According to a ruling published by the AMF on September 28, 2012, the regulator had noticed ‘atypical purchases’ in relation to a bid by BT for part of the French information technology services company NET2S.

Ultimately, Mr Lalani was fined 1.5million euros for transmitting “inside information” to at least two persons.

But responding to a Freedom of Information request last week (February 6) Invest NI said it “holds no record of written confirmation from Mr Lalani in respect of these matters.”

In a statement it said: “Mr Lalani acted as an ‘Investment Ambassador’ for Invest Northern Ireland on a voluntary basis between August 2010 and April 2011.

“Mr Lalani’s commitment was dependent upon his availability at the time. His availability was reduced after April 2011 and from this date he has not acted on behalf of Invest NI.”

Invest NI stated that Mr Lalani volunteered his services to assist Invest NI in promoting Northern Ireland overseas.

The company said that there was “no formal written application process and individuals offer support across a range of areas.”

Mr Lalani was appointed as BT Northern Ireland Chief Executive in 1999.