Bridging lender gives evidence in 'astounding' fraud trial

Bridging lender gives evidence in 'astounding' fraud trial


In the first of a series of articles focusing on fraud, Alan Margolis, the chief executive officer of short term finance firm, Cheval, has told Bridging & Commercial of his first experience of giving evidence in a fraud trial. 

According to Mr Margolis, lenders often have to assist the police in fraud investigations and inquiries, although not all cases result in a trial. Often the accused pleads guilty before the case reaches the court, or a witness statement is all that is required.  

However, in December 2008, the CEO was notified of a trial scheduled to commence in July 2009.


“I confirmed available dates and waited to be advised that the accused had changed their plea. It never came.” Mr Margolis recalled.


“Roll forward to July 2009 and I find myself in the witness waiting room together with a group of nervous fellow witnesses from a number of lenders. As a solicitor, I was fortunate to have had experience of court processes, but never as a witness.


“One by one my fellow witnesses were summoned, until eventually it was my turn to go and wait outside the court room to be called. Entering the room was somewhat surreal, I could feel dozens of eyes burning into me and at the back of the court behind an enormous glass screen was the small lonely figure who was the cause of us all being there – the alleged fraudster – the personification of the fraud dread that all lenders fear and do so much to avoid – was sitting just a few feet away, looking pretty harmless now.” Mr Margolis recounted.


Although Cheval had not lost any money in the alleged fraud, other lenders were facing losses of millions of pounds. The sophistication of the fraud is described as “astounding” by Mr Margolis, who said that his firm was just a small cog in a large and complex system.

Mr Margolis continued: “The forty minutes or so in the witness box flew by and at the end I was congratulated by the defence counsel on the thoroughness of our file, being the various steps that Cheval takes to detect fraudsters and fraudulent application. In fact, I was told that Cheval had the most detailed file of all the lenders involved. This was obviously very pleasing, although the irony was not lost on me. For in fact, we had actually lent to and been repaid by someone who never even existed!”


As the trial concluded, the defendant was convicted on 3 counts of fraud and received a sentence of 7 years imprisonment.

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