Solicitor Jonathan Gilbert, 48, plotted with mortgage brokers Matthew Robinson, 42, Nicholas Pomroy and pilot Mark Entwistle aged 47 to take out multiple bogus mortgages on strangers’ homes to the tune of £30m in mortgage fraud. Jailed earlier this year after a 26 week trial, the sentence terms came to a combined total of 34 years.
The four professionals managed to con lenders into offering mortgage funds by pretending to buy the homes of innocent and unwitting homeowners; unaware that their properties were being used in a scam.
As a result of Jonathan Gilbert’s criminal conveyancing, the firm where he was a partner, Willmett Solicitors in Maidenhead, Berkshire, suffered, subsequently closed with the loss of 70 jobs.
According to the reports in the Daily Mail Judge Martin Beddoe stated:
"Between 2005 and 2009 a substantial and sophisticated fraud was committed against banks and other lenders, some 14 of them or so.The fraud was for the benefit of you, Mark Entwistle, orchestrated by you and Jonathan Gilbert and assisted in some ways by Mr Robinson and Mr Pomroy."
The court heard Entwistle and Gilbert fraudulently stole mortgage funds of more than £6m from RBS and Northern Rock by using variations on the name Rigby Group to secure illegal mortgages between 2005 and 2009.
Prosecutor Michael Shorrock QC stated that "At first the money was genuinely used to redevelop property and sell it on at a profit. As time went by, however, he began to raise finance by fraud.The loan applications would state that loan funds were to be used to refinance or purchase or develop a particular property."
Core to the fraud was the fact that when mortgages were approved, criminal conveyancer Gilbert did not tell the Land Registry about other mortgages on the property, thus tricking lenders into thinking that ‘Rigby Group’ had more legal rights and collateral than they did.
Frighteningly, in other cases the unscrupulous gang took out mortgages on properties already owned by unconnected people. These victims had no idea of the loan until the lender told them payments had been missed.
In one case a family had to move out of their £1.5m home after building society bosses arrived to repossess it.
The five-year police investigation began in July 2009 when Willmett Solicitors reported irregularities.
Entwistle worked with Gilbert to obtain illegal mortgages on a number of properties and sites between 2005 and 2009. Robinson and Pomroy processed the false applications, the court was told.
In one case the group managed to take out five mortgages on a single property.
Two other defendants – Philip Barker, 47, of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, and Shon Williams, 48, of East Grinstead, West Sussex – were cleared of all counts after the trial.
Entwistle was jailed for 14 years, Gilbert 12 years, Robinson five years and Pomroy three years.
This case only serves to demonstrate the lengths by which criminal gangs will go to defraud innocent homeowners and mortgage lenders. Protect yourself, your firm, lender and client. Implement Lawyer Checker into your risk and compliance regimen.
Ask yourself; why would I not check where purchase funds were going?