CASE STUDY

City property fraud trial folds
Criminal

City Property Trial Folds A trial of several people accused of being involved in a £7m property fraud in Aberdeen has collapsed… the trial had been due to last five months. (Story from BBC News 22/03/2010) One of the accused had applied for short term bank funding to acquire four properties, all of which were to be sold within two weeks under existing arrangements. The bank readily agreed and the funding was paid into a general client account held by a solicitor who was another of the nine accused. The four properties were bought and the balance of the funding, some £32,000, was paid to a company for reasons that were not clear. The properties were sold, and the proceeds from the sales were disbursed by way of solicitor’s fees, outlays on upgrading the properties, payments in respect of other properties, and transfers to cover debit balances in other client ledger accounts. As the transactions occurred in late 2001 and early 2002 some records, such as bank statements, were missing. It was unclear whether the accused who had applied for the funding was aware that the funds would be used for these purposes instead of being repaid to the bank. However the evidence appeared conclusive that the solicitor had deliberately spent £32,000 for purposes other than the purchase of the properties, and had spent the eventual sales proceeds improperly. Despite this, the trial collapsed for reasons not disclosed in the BBC News story. Was this a waste of the time of the police and other law enforcement agencies, not to mention a waste of public funds? On the face of it, it would certainly appear to be.

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