Kelbrook man on trial in alleged property fraud

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A SURVEYOR from Kelbrook has gone on trial in North Wales for his role in an alleged property scam.

A jury heard that the scale and extent of the fraud was difficult to envisage but prosecutor Patrick Harrington QC told Mold Crown Court on Thursday it involved a fraud based upon bogus mortgage applications in relation to “very many” domestic properties, houses, flats and apartments, over quite a wide area.

The properties, some of which were, in fact, fictional, non-existent or existed in a different form than claimed by the defendants, were in North Wales, Cheshire and the North West.

Bogus applications for mortgages had been made in the names of friends or relatives and others who had been used as “dupes” and who were totally unaware that mortgages had been taken out in their names, it was claimed.

The driving forces behind the alleged fraud are said to be Antony Lowry-Huws (63), of Kinmel Bay, and his business partner Sheila Rose Whalley (66), of Llanfairtalhaearn near Abergele, who were in business together as property speculators.

Darlington and George Walker (58), of Colwyn Bay, are said to have provided inflated valuations for the mortgage applications.

Huws’ wife Susan Margaret Lowry-Huws (59), of Kinmel Bay, was alleged to have been involved in individual transactions.

Solicitor Nicholas John Jones (53), of Leeswood near Mold, at the time based at Flint, carried out the conveyancing work for the tractions to take place, it is claimed.

All deny conspiring to defraud and conspiring to falsify documents between May 2003 and June 2008.

Accountant Michael Georgieff Jones is also charged on the basis that he provided much of the finance required but he is too ill to stand trial, which in his case has been postponed.

Opening the trial, which is expected to last four months, Mr Harrington said that the dishonest scheme began on a modest scale but grew in size and scale.

A long, detailed and painstaking investigation had been carried out by police.

He said that it all came to light when in December 2007, a woman was concerned at details of mortgage applications which had been made in her son’s name.

An investigation was set up by the Bradford and Bingley Bank who called in the police.

They discovered a mortgage fraud which had been perpetrated by the defendants, and others, over a period of some years, Mr Harrington alleged.

He said the main protagonists were Antony Lowry Huws and Sheila Rose Whalley. They operated as individuals and through a number of companies such as Whalley Huws Limited.

“They drove the mortgage fraud but could not have done so without the assistance of others,” the prosecutor claimed.

Michael Jones was an accountant and was active in other financial affairs such as company formations.

He provided initial bridging finance for the acquisition of properties and was involved in securing other finance, it was claimed.

Darlington and Walker each provided valuations which were unrealistic which were then used to practise the fraud upon a number of lenders, the court heard.

Anthony Huws and Whalley would obtain buy-to-let mortgages which had a twin effect of committing them to redeem the original bridging loan and also to generate a profit.

That was done by their ability to team up with a surveyor or valuer who was willing to overvalue the property allowing a mortgage to be obtained.

It was alleged that they would be instructed what valuation to give and what the rental income should be.

Mortgages would be obtained in their own names or increasingly as the fraud developed, in the names of family members or others. “Often these others would be dupes,” said Mr Harrington.

The defendants would obtain sufficient funding to clear any bridging loan, pay for the freehold and for there to be a considerable excess “a dishonest profit” which they would then divided among the conspirators, the court heard.

The trial, before Judge Rhys Rowlands, is proceeding.