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Defendants accused of £1.6m mortgage fraud conspiracy
THREE men and two women have gone on trial accused of conspiring to defraud mortgage companies of more than £1.6m.
Teesside Crown Court was told that the defendants involved gave false information in mortgage applications for properties in County Durham and Teesside between June 1, 2007, and August 31, 2009.
Middlesbrough-based businessman Mohammed Asif Ali, who ran several companies, his wife Ghazala and another woman Carol Ann Bainbridge, who owned property with Mr Ali, are said to have plotted together to obtain mortgage advances fraudulently.
They were helped by 36-year-old Tanveer Hussain, from Leeds, and 38-year-old Sohail Siraj, of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, who are both alleged to have brokered the dishonest transactions.
Prosecutor Angus MacDonald said the conspiracy involved the use of false identities, while conveyancing transactions were also completed in which both the buyer and the seller were involved in the fraud.
Mr MacDonald also said false representations were made about levels of income, without which the money to buy the properties would not have been made available by the lender, and false financial documentation provided.
He said Mr Ali hijacked the identity of a Pakistani man, who approached him for help with a passport application, and also used an alias to distance himself from the fraudulent mortgage applications.
Mr Ali, 55, of Acklam Road, Middlesbrough, denies taking part in the wider conspiracy, but has admitted, together with his 27-year-old son Mohammed Salman Ali, who is not on trial, a single separate count of conspiring with another to defraud.
Mr MacDonald gave a number of examples of property deals the defendants were involved in in both the village of Brafferton, near Darlington, County Durham, and in Middlesbrough.
He said Ghazala Ali, who along with the remaining defendants denies conspiracy to defraud, applied for a £200,000 interest only loan in order to buy a £250,000 property in Acklam Road, Middlesbrough from her husband in July 2007.
Mrs Ali, 44, also of Acklam Road, claimed she was earning £60,000 a year working for one of her husband's companies, but checks by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed that she had no income during the period in question.
Carol Ann Bainbridge, 46, of Ash House, Brafferton, obtained a £285,000 mortgage after claiming she was a business owner earning £100,000 a year. However Mr MacDonald said agreed evidence would be put before the jury showing she had paid no income tax since 2003 and only received tax credits and child benefit.
The trial, which is expected to last several weeks, continues.