Friday, October 09, 2009

The smell gets stronger and stronger...

Here is the latest report from the court case taking place at Southwark Crown Court regarding the multi million pound mortgage fraud that Persimmon homes were 'instrumental' in. With such a large involvement in this scandal, why were Persimmon homes not investigated and why were charges not brought against them?

Full Report –

October 07, 2009


Senior managers at one of Britain’s biggest homebuilders knew of problems in a deal to sell a block of flats to an accused mortgage fraudster but still went ahead with it, a court heard today (Wed).

Under the terms of the deal, Persimmon Homes sold 84 brand new apartments to Alim Barry – a Sierra Leonean national now said to have swindled millions out of high-street lenders.

Prosecutors say Barry’s shell company Atrex bought the flats for £15.25m before selling them on at inflated prices to buyers who had fraudulent mortages.
Barry and his accomplices used a network of crooked brokers, accountants and solicitors to create fake financial histories for these applicants and dupe the banks, it is claimed.

The conman has since fled the country with the profits of the scam, after swindling lenders into handing over a total £18.75m in loans, Southwark Crown Court has heard.

Although the firm is not accused of any crime, it is claimed that Persimmon was ‘instrumental’ in allowing the fraud to take place.
Persimmon solicitor Nick Knight told the court he helped draw up the deal Barry made in 2006 to buy the Hill House block in Thamesmead, South East London.

He said Atrex paid an initial deposit of £250,000 on the building, and paid the rest of the cash as the subsequent mortgage deals went through on individual flats.

Mr Knight told the court he had inserted a clause in the contract stating that if Barry did not make the payments with a set timeframe, Persimmon would be entitled to keep his deposit and offer Hill House to other buyers.
But he said that although senior managers in the company’s South East division were aware Barry was missing these deadlines, they decided to continue with the deal.

He named chairman Brendan O’Neill, managing director Edward Owens and sales director Jason Stokes as among those who were allegedly aware of the decision.

Mr Justin Cole, defending Dean Dairo, an accountant accused of helping Barry commit the fraud, asked Mr Knight why Persimmon did not simply terminate the contract.

He said: ‘You tried to protect the position of Persimmon by inserting a clause which meant that if Alim Barry was late, Persimmon could have just walked away with his deposit.
‘We have seen that what in fact happened was the absolute opposite.
‘What in fact they did was tie themselves around the waist of Mr Barry and his selling on of the flats.
‘Who made the decision to wait until then before receiving the money?’

Mr Knight replied: ‘The decision not to terminate the contract would have hinged on how the management of Persimmon South East viewed market conditions at the time.’

He named Mr Stokes and Mr O’Neill as among those who would have been involved in the decision.

Mr Cole added: ‘It would be a nonsense to suggest that Mr Owens, the managing director, would have been ignorant of what was going on.

‘The completions were happening whenever Atrex chose to send money.
‘I think we are agreed that Mr Owens must have known what was going on. And of course Mr Stokes himself.’
The solicitor replied: ‘Yes.’

Mr Knight told the court that another senior Persimmon executive, Nick Thomas, had looked at alternative buyers for the flats.
He said: ‘I think at some stage of the transaction, Mr Thomas to go back and investigate the possibility of going elsewhere.

‘I've seen in the bundle something to the effect that they had another interested party, but couldn't get as much money as under the current Atrex deal.’

In the dock alongside Dairo are Barry’s cousins Mohammed, 39, and Muctaru Barrie, 29, mortgage valuers Brad Fisher, 44, George Sourou, 43, and Sofiya Ahmed, 28, and solicitor Okwuchukwu Izuchukwu.
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.
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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