Billionaire kept rape conviction a secret to travel world unchecked

A one-time billionaire allegedly lied to keep his rape conviction secret for 20 years, allowing him to travel in and out of the United States and elsewhere unchecked, according to reports.

A French court had found Simon Halabi guilty of raping a woman in 1998 — but he was convicted under the first name Mohammed, which doesn’t appear on his British passport, the Telegraph reported Wednesday.

That allowed the property magnate — who ranked as the UK’s 14th-richest man in 2007 with an estimated net worth of $5 billion — to fly around the world and continue doing business.

In France, he had been sentenced to three years, which was suspended for five years.

On Wednesday, a judge in Westminster magistrates’ court approved a police application for Halabi to be subjected to public notification rules as a convicted sex offender.

Detective Constable Alan Morgan accused the Syrian-born businessman of hiding his criminal past from border officials in the US.

“He has admitted frequent travel to the US, he has property in the Florida area, and from his own admission he lied on a number of occasions,” Morgan told the court. “He ticked ‘no arrests’ and ‘no convictions’ on the landing forms. I’m sure he has traveled to many different countries around the world where visa requirements may require disclosure.”

Halabi’s rape conviction stems from an attack on a woman in her 20s at his home in France. He “slapped, punched and attempted to strangle” the victim, grabbed her hair and dragged her to his bed, according to police records.

He “threatened her with death if she were to report” the rape to police.

UK authorities first learned of the conviction in 2012 but didn’t directly link the case to Halabi, who used the first name Simon on his British passport. Metropolitan Police only learned Halabi’s true identity last November.

Gudrun Young, who represented Halabi in court, lost a battle to keep Wednesday’s court hearing confidential, saying reporting the case could ruin his life, according to the Times.

“He doesn’t accept the legitimacy of the conviction in France and is seeking to have it struck out,” she said.

Halabi, whose assets once included the London headquarters of JP Morgan and a multimillion-dollar stake in the Shard, declared bankruptcy in 2010, the Times reported.

He vowed to fight the judge’s order in London.

“The court hearing at Westminster was all wrong,” he said. “We are planning to appeal.”

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