Six solicitors have been charged in relation to an alleged fraud that is set to be the UK’s largest ever mortgage scam.
Three lawyers from Patwa Solicitors, Birmingham, as well as three solicitors from various other companies pleaded not guilty when they appeared at Southwark Crown Court.
They have denied any involvement in the case of the £50 million commercial mortgage fraud. A chartered surveyor and former Dunlop Haywards head of valuations, Ian McGarry, and Birmingham property developer Saghir Afzal pleaded guilty for their part in the case.
It was revealed that six properties purchased between 2004 and 2006 for less than £6 million were used as security by the accused for loans of £49.28 million.
The solicitors allegedly used McGarry’s hugely over-inflated valuation reports to con banks and building societies into what Andrew Baillie estimated to be the equivalent of an 866 per cent mortgage.
Jonathon Newman, Brightstone Law LLP, said: “Lenders rely on the valuation advice and the integrity of the valuer when evaluating an application.”
David Freedman of Aubrey David LLP, added that any determined fraudster would require the services of an ‘unscrupulous professional’.
In this case, it seems that many unscrupulous professionals were involved in creating a complex web of corruption that has taken several years to uncover.
The first query levelled against any of the loans was made in as early as 2006 by The Cheshire Building Society. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) began investigating soon after, yet the case is still ongoing.
David Freeman said: “The resources available to the police in fraud cases are limited. I am not surprised that it takes time to get to the bottom of a fraud case.”
Jonathon Newman explained that another difficulty with mortgage fraud cases is that it often takes a long time for the ultimate lender to realise that there is a problem, because the property may be re-mortgaged several times. There may then be both a civil and a criminal case involved.
The case is currently still ongoing and it is anticipated that it will take 12 weeks before a verdict is reached. By the end of this period Mcgarry and Afzal will be sentenced.
The six solicitors have been named as Hardeep Sodhi, 34, Fatema Patwa, 48, Mark Knight, 46, Laurence Fennigan, 49, Simon Lawrence, 39, and Kamram Malik, 31.
By Katie-Jill Rowland
Tags: mortgage scam