Thursday, May 30, 2024

Two jailed in $8.7 million mortgage fraud case

Two Auckland men have been sentenced to prison over a $8.7 million mortgage fraud scheme uncovered by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Bryan Martin was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment after being found guilty on charges of obtaining by deception and attempting to obtain by deception following a trial last year. Joshua Grant was sentenced to 28 months’ imprisonment.

SFO Director, Karen Chang says the sentences were a reflection of the serious nature of the offending, which was a deliberate effort to circumvent lending restrictions.

“New Zealanders invest heavily in property and mortgages are a key part of the process. Lending restrictions protect both banks and those who are borrowing, as well as the wider economy,” says Ms Chang.

“Offending of this nature breaches the trust between bankers, mortgage brokers and customers, which can ultimately impact the ability of future borrowers to secure loans.”

Mr Grant’s wife, Sian Grant, was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention in March after pleading guilty to four charges of obtaining by deception and one charge of attempting to obtain by deception.

Mr Martin’s former partner, Viki Cotter, who pleaded guilty in 2022, was sentenced to nine months home detention in January. 

Both couples sought to invest in the Auckland property market, but resorted to fraud as they lacked the income needed to obtain finance.

Mr Martin used a non-trading entity, Momentum Transition Developments, and created fake employment agreements for Ms Cotter and Mrs Grant. 

Fourteen loan applications were made between August 2015 and October 2016 which falsely stated the applicant was employed by Momentum.

By moving money between their own private bank accounts, the group gave the impression that they received regular salaries, the SFO said in a statement.

Mortgage applications were initially submitted through a brokerage where Ms Cotter was a licensed broker, and later directly. 

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