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Solicitors probed over mortgage fraud

The Solicitors Regulation Authority carried out 106 investigations into solicitor firms last year as part of a crackdown on solicitors involved in mortgage fraud.

Out of the 106 investigations conducted by the SRA where there was suspected misconduct in relation to mortgages or property, 22 law firms have been closed down by the SRA, and 24 cases have been referred to the police for investigation.

A further 30 cases have been referred by the SRA to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, which has the power to strike off solicitors, with other investigations continuing.  

The SRA estimate that these emergency inspections have saved lenders between £15m and £20m in the past nine months alone.

The regulator handled over 400 cases of suspected mortgage and property fraud last year, an increase on the 356 reports in 2008 and just 85 reports in 2005.

The SRA has now issued advice and warnings to all solicitors’ firms, alerting them to the warning signs of suspicious transactions.

It has also reminded firms that they need to ensure they do not become embroiled in fraud and to report any suspicions they may have.

“We are committed to working closely with the SRA during 2010, and beyond, to target corrupt solicitors who we believe are a significant enabler of property fraud.”

Robert Wishart, detective superintendent of the City of London Police, national lead force for fraud investigation

Steve Wilmott, head of the fraud and confidential intelligence bureau at the SRA, says:  “Last year the SRA stepped up its work to prevent, deter and tackle mortgage fraud.

“Mortgage fraud is a serious issue for home owners and lenders.  

“We are working closely with major lenders and the police to share intelligence and take prompt action.”

Dan Watkins, managing director for mortgages at Lloyds Banking Group, says: “The financial services industry faces a serious and continued threat of mortgage fraud that is orchestrated by rogue solicitors.

“Lloyds Banking Group supports all efforts that are made to combat this threat.”

Robert Wishart, detective superintendent of the City of London Police, national lead force for fraud investigation, says: “We are committed to working closely with the SRA during 2010, and beyond, to target corrupt solicitors who we believe are a significant enabler of property fraud. 

“Working in collaboration will help us to better understand the threats and give us the opportunity to take preventative and enforcement action to protect the financial community”.

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  • j j williams 10th October 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Solicitors WHO HAVE NO SHAME. A well known solicitor from Leeds was involved with a broker who is now in prison he was also involved with a mortgage packer yep in jail.His accounting skills were idiotic and his association with another company in warrington will soon be made public. His ability to provide ID and a POA that are not official is a master peice but one thing I want to know how did he get away with the Oldham College scam?

  • dorothy 11th December 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Idonot know how the SRA or anybody will be able, to crack down on corrupt socitors, getting away with mortgage fruad etc,if some judges and the system are allowing them ,to hide behind Limitation Laws,by using concealment eg
    EDC lord solicitors

  • Dorothy Cruickshank 11th December 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Idonot know how the SRA or anybody will be able, to crack down on corrupt socitors, getting away with mortgage fruad etc,if some judges and the system are allowing them ,to hide behind Limitation Laws,by using concealment eg
    EDC lord solicitors

  • JUSTICE 10th February 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Whosoever committed the crime should be named,once more building soceities who assist solicitors via lack of due care over paperwork etc. I know of a firm in Leeds which tried to lead a group of investors to the slaughter!Acting both for the investors and the investment company, IS THEIR ANY JUSTICE ANYWHERE WHAT INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS HAVE SOCEITIES INTERNALLY? THE LITTLE MAN IN THE STREET ALWAYS SEEM TO GET SCREW BY THE WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL WORLD

  • Dave 29th January 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I think its unfair to expect name and shaming, these guys have studied for around 7 yrs to get where they are.

    Lets face it Cemap is a 3 week “certificate” and not really a qualification of any standing.

    So expecting the same treatment is ludicrous at best.

  • honest broker 28th January 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Come on gentlemen we all know that some brokers must have been involved you are not suggesting surely that the applications came direct from lenders.
    The sooner we clear out the brokers who are letting us down the better.

  • raj sodha 28th January 2010 at 9:28 am

    |recall reading somewhere that about 30% of the Solicitors are either “bent”, “crooked”,or greedy. This may be a tip of the iceburgh?

  • Salil Chaudhari 27th January 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I would be very surprised if these solicitors operated in isolation or in collusion with corrupt brokers.No doubt we will see members of other professional bodies coming to the surface during the SRA investigations. Is so these should also be named and shamed.

  • Martin Smith 27th January 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I hate to keep banging on about exams but it just goes to show that all the qualifications in the world will not stop this sort of thing going on.

    One of my favorite quotes by Warren Buffett sums it up perfectly…

    “In evaluating people, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And, if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

  • Dave Green 27th January 2010 at 4:30 pm

    To Anonymous at 12.04pm – why are you asking the FSA to name and shame? The FSA aren’t the ones carrying out the investigation!

  • Jon 27th January 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Was Dan Watkins the MD of BMSolutions who allowed pretty much everybody to self certify their income without any checks?
    I wonder what percentage of full status cases were / are fraudulent and what percentage of self cert cases. Yes, solicitors did / can play a big part in fraudulent cases, but full underwriting would also stop a lot of them.

  • anon 27th January 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Name and shame these firms and advisers – the FSA do it to brokers so the same rules should apply.

    Greedy and crooked Solicitors should not get away with being named.

  • Anonymous 27th January 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Yes I think that the FSA should name and shame the solicitors who have allegedly done this, the same way they always disgrace mortgage brokers. Its only fair.

  • James Lindon-Travers 27th January 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I commented last week on the mortgage fraud issue of losses of £1bn last year and mentioned how much the Solicitors were responsible for. I am glad Mortgage Strategy have run this article – as all too often the accusing fingers are pointed at the brokers.

  • J Woodthorpe 27th January 2010 at 11:41 am

    Name and Shame. We need to know for so many reasons. We may have inadvertently dealt with them in the past. Probably scared they will be taken to court, perhaps?

  • Tim 27th January 2010 at 11:31 am

    I would like to know what the mortgage fraud was in these cases. Can there be ‘fraud’ and fraud; with one being distinct from the other, one a criminal activity and the other just not wanting to look to deeply at what would otherwise be just a normal house purchase transaction? I am not trying to excuse what has or might be done but I would like to consider them in some sort of context. I say this because we are in an age and society where even the most petty of transgressions may be ruled unacceptable and where something is seen to be going wrong someone has to blamed for it.

  • G Carson 27th January 2010 at 11:04 am

    Yes, who are the companies struck off? We hear in the press every day about another broker who has had their license revoked and the 1st thing the FSA do as tell everyone exactly who these people are and where they worked.
    So why not with these solicitors?

  • Philip 27th January 2010 at 10:53 am

    About time too ! Always said that a “Profession” that stood up in court and bent the truth on behalf of their clients would do the same sort of thing outside court for their own advantage ! . . . just how far do they bend it before it breaks ? . . . actually, I have taken on far too many in court to have any illusions about their honesty !

  • Louisa Bateman 27th January 2010 at 10:42 am

    Name and shame – they’re quick enough to name brokers who commit mortgage fraud why not solicitors too?

  • John 27th January 2010 at 10:23 am

    Well well well. To think Solicitors used to be regarded as pillars of Society and they often claim that they are the only people in the financial services retail world, people can trust. Well well well.