Six-solicitor £49m mortgage fraud trial dumped by SFO

Six-solicitor £49m mortgage fraud trial dumped by SFO


In the last leg of an ongoing trial into one of the UK's largest ever mortgage fraud scams, the SFO has decided not to pursue a retrial of three of the solicitors. It beleives it is acting 'in the public's interest' by wrapping up the case.

The fraud, which involved three solicitors from Patwa Solicitors, Birmingham, and three others, including chartered surveyor and former Dunlop Haywards head of valuations, Ian McGarry, took place between 2004 and 2006.

Through that period, the group purchased six properties for around £6 million, and then submitted fraudulent valuations in order to obtain mortgages on the properties for circa £48.2 million.

Experts estimate that the mortgages were the equivalent of 866 per cent LTV.

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.

David Freeman of Aubrey David LLP 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.”
Five years since initial investigations commenced, defendants Hardeep Sodhi, partner at Patwa Solicitors at the time, Simon Lawrence, a former partner of Darlington’s Solicitors in north London at the time, and Mark Knights of Mace & Jones in Manchester at the time, have been found not guilty by Southwark Crown Court.

McGarry, who pleaded guilty to involvement in mortgage fraud, alongside Birmingham businessman Saghir Afzal, were due to be sentenced yesterday, although their sentences have not been made public.

In court two weeks ago,  a jury could not reach a decision on all counts on defendants Fatema Patwa, principal of Birmingham-based Patwa Solicitors; Laurence Ferrigan, former partner of London-based the CFB Partnership; and Kamran Malik, partner at A&H Solicitors.

As a result, the SFP has taken the decision not to pursue any further retrials.

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