London, Dec. 20 (ANI): The Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, had 1.8 million pounds in a Swiss bank account when he was convicted eight years ago, it has been revealed.
The Crown Office, Scotland's equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service, has confirmed it refused to grant bail to al-Megrahi as recently as November last year because of concerns he might try to gain access to the money.
According to The Times, the existence of such a large sum in a personal account casts doubt on claims by the Libyan government that al-Megrahi was a low-ranking airline worker.
The disclosure also raises further questions about the wisdom of the Scottish government in releasing the bomber, who has terminal prostate cancer, on compassionate grounds in August.
Sources close to al-Megrahi's defence team said they were aware of the bank account and had several explanations prepared ahead of his trial in the Netherlands in 2000.
They included the claim that he had been given the money by Libyan Arab Airlines, his employer, to buy aircraft parts abroad in breach of the western trade embargo in place against his country at the time of the 1988 bombing of the Pan Am plane over Scotland, in which 270 people died.
Another explanation would have been that al-Megrahi had been entrusted with the funds to finance an attempt to include Libya in the Paris to Dakar rally.
The prosecution never raised the issue of the account because it came too late to be introduced as evidence at his trial.
Ben Wallace, Conservative MP for Lancaster and Wyre and a member of the Scottish affairs committee, which is inquiring into the circumstances of al- Megrahi's release, said the existence of the account was a "startling" revelation.
"Had this been known at the time, the financial web that linked Libya and Megrahi to international terrorism would have been a major plank in the crown's case," he said.
"Far from being the wrong man, I think this suggests Megrahi was an international co-ordinator of terrorism for Libya."
Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice secretary, released Megrahi in August. He decided Meghrahi should be sent home to die after receiving medical advice that the Libyan had about three months to live.
The decision angered the American government and families of the victims who said he should not have been allowed to return to Tripoli. (ANI)