A BUSINESSMAN who masterminded a widespread mortgage fraud which netted almost £800,000 has been jailed for 11 years.
Rashid Farid, who was a qualified accountant and financial advisor, was described as the director and inventor of a sophisticated scam based in Dewsbury.
He and others used the internet to alter Land Registry records and then obtain mortgages or remortgages on properties in various locations including Dewsbury, Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield.
During a nine-week trial at Bradford Crown Court, a jury heard how the money paid out by Birmingham Midshires and The Mortgage Business, which were both part of the Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), was then laundered through other people’s accounts and large sums sent abroad to Pakistan.
At the conclusion of the trial yesterday, (TUES) prosecutor Tom Storey confirmed HBOS was not insured for the actual losses it incurred, which amounted to just over £660,000.
As a result of the fraud, some legitimate householders had to spend many months and significant sums of money trying to persuade the Land Registry to transfer the title for their properties back into their names.
Farid, 30, of Lemans Drive, Batley, operated as a registered mortgage broker from a business called Lifestyle Mortgages (Kirklees) Ltd, based in Daisy Hill, Dewsbury.
His barrister Jonathan Mann accepted the fraud was not a victimless crime and he conceded that some people had suffered emotionally, if not financially, from discovering that their homes had been usurped.
Mr Mann said: "There is not doubt that Mr Farid was a successful businessman before he began committing these offences."
He submitted that his client did not need the money at the time and there was no evidence of a lavish lifestyle such as fast cars or such like.
"I suspect that for him the root cause of the offending was more to do with the intellectual challenge of beating the system than for pure dishonesty’s sake," said Mr Mann.
Passing sentence, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC called for an urgent review of the Land Registry Act, which he suggested had provided "a gaping opportunity" for the offences to be committed.
He also suggested the scale of the offending may not have happened without the "reckless rush for profit" by newly-created financial institutions.
And speaking to Farid, the judge added: "We have heard and are hearing so much of toxic assets, the sub-prime market and so on that it is only now that we are realising that, in addition to toxic assets, criminals like you have taken advantage of toxic legislation. But hindsight is marvellous."
When Mr Storey opened the case to the jury, he explainedThe court had heard how Farid submitted false applications for mortgages by using genuine details without the owners’ knowledge or after fraudulently altering details of owners held by the Land Registry.
Farid was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation as well as perverting the course of justice and transferring criminal property.
Also jailed were his solicitor brother Mohammed Jahangir Farid, 26, and their father, Mohammed Farid, 53, also of Lemans Drive.
They were convicted of a money- laundering offence and jailed for four years and two years respectively.
Two other men who admitted involvement in the conspiracy and money-laundering, Mohammed Rafiq, 50, of Queens Road, Halifax, and Mohammed Ali, 42, of All Saints Court, Keighley, were jailed for three-and-a-half years.
Imran Hussain, 31, of Burley Road, Leeds, and another man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were jailed for three-and-a-half years for money laundering.
Five other men were cleared of any involvement in the scam, between March 2006 and October 2007. They were: Javed Iqbal, 43, of Wigan, Nadim Farid, 29, of Lemans Drive, Batley, Ihsan Meer, 45, of West Park Street, Dewsbury, Attif Ashraf, 31, of Brander Close, Bradford, and Wasim Nazir, 31, of Moorend Lane, Dewsbury.