Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The trial continues...

Here is the latest story from the multi million pound mortgage fraud that Persimmon homes are involved in...

September 30, 2009


A nurse told a court how a gang of conmen promised to turn him into a wealthy landlord overnight as part of a multi-million pound mortgage fraud.
The Sierra Leonean fraudsters duped millions out of high street mortgage lenders using a network of crooked brokers, accountants and solicitors, it is claimed.

Operating as a shell company with no assets or bank accounts, the gang bought an entire block of flats in southeast London before selling on the luxury apartments at inflated prices.

Southwark Crown Court heard that 'buyers' were recruited from within the Sierra Leonean community to apply for mortgages from banks.

Prosecutors say Persimmon Homes, one of Britain's biggest construction firms, was 'instrumental' in the scam by helping to create inflated valuations for the properties.

Ringleader Alim Barrie later fled to live off the £3.5m profits from the scam, and has never been caught.

Witness Emmanuel Blango told jurors the gang said he could buy two brand new flats worth nearly £300,000 each.

He said he met a man called 'Micky', as well as Barry’s cousin, Mohammed Barrie, who is accused of playing a leading role in the fraud.

Mr Blango initially agreed to buy one flat on condition he paid the mortgage of £800 a month and the gang paid the deposit. The fraudsters then approached him again, saying he could buy a second flat for nothing at all.

He said: 'I met a guy called Mohammed Barrie, a taller guy, slightly fair complexion. That day he was in a Liverpool football club t-shirt.
'We had a lengthy discussion on football, and because I came to the office somewhere in the Surrey Keys.

'Alimou spoke to Mohammed, and Micky and Alimou told me about the other flat.
'They tried to persuade me that it is not going to cost me anything.
'They told me: ''You will not be paying anything on this mortgage, we will rent it out for you.'''

Mr Blango said he was taken to meet a mortgage broker called George, who said he could find him a mortgage for the second flat.
He eventually declined the offer, but the gang still made a mortgage application in his name, it is claimed.

Jurors were shown the fake mortgage application claiming that Mr Blango was a self-employed therapist earning £90,000 a year.
In fact he was a psychiatric nurse, earning just £30,000.

The form was signed by mortgage valuer Sofiya Ahmed, 28, who is in the dock alongside Mohammed Barrie, 39.

Barrie and Ahmed, and Muctaru Barrie, 29, are in the dock at Southwark Crown Court alongside mortgage valuers Brad Fisher, 44, George Sourou, 43, accountant Dean Dairo, 48, and 45-year-old solicitor Okwuchukwu Izuchukwu.
Another Barrie brother, Umaru, also fled the country while on bail.

Accountant Stuart Joseph, 43, has admitted inventing financial references for fraudulent mortgage applicants, the court heard.

The court heard the shell company Atrex bought 84 flats in the Hill House block in Thamesmead from Persimmon for £15.25m and sold them for £18.75m - a profit of £3.5m.

Persimmon makes over 10,000 homes a year in the UK.

Mohammed Barrie, of (78) Pinewood Ave, Dartford, Kent; Izuchukwu, of (139) Earlham Grove, Forest Gate, East London; Ahmed, of (153) Howard Road, Walthamstow, East London; Dairo, of (20) Eastern Ave, South Ockendon, Essex; Fisher, of (33) Tiptree Crescent, Ilford, Essex; and Sourou, of (21) The Crescent, Ilford, Essex deny conspiracy to defraud mortgage lenders between October 1, 2005 and November 1, 2006.
Muctaru Barrie, also of (78) Pinewood Place, Mohammed Barrie and Izuchukwu deny conspiracy to launder criminal property.
Joseph, of (4) Furham Field, Pinner, Middlesex, has admitted seven specimen charges of false accounting.

The trial continues.


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