Mortgage fraudster gets another decade in UK jail

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - A convicted fraudster who pleaded guilty to helping mastermind one of Britain's largest mortgage frauds has had a 13-year jail sentence extended by 10 years after failing to pay back about 30 million pounds.

Saghir Afzal, who was sentenced to jail two years ago, was told by Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Tuesday he would have to serve the additional sentence unless the confiscation order plus accrued interest were paid in full.

Pakistan-born Afzal, 51, was sentenced alongside surveyor Ian McGarry for operating a "massive and carefully orchestrated" scam that defrauded Cheshire Building Society, Bank of Ireland, Societe Generale and Nationwide Building Society of almost 50 million pounds.

When sentencing Afzal in 2011, the judge said he had sent over 26 million pounds to Pakistan, where the money remained either under his own control or that of his brother, Nisar Afzal. Only 92,000 pounds has been seized to date.

The two brothers recruited McGarry to inflate the value of leases on six commercial properties. They then persuaded lenders to loan them tens of millions of pounds on properties worth less than 6 million.

After making one or two early mortgage payments, companies controlled by the Afzals stopped paying the loans and disappeared, leaving the lenders to repossess the properties - and discover the shortfall in their values.

McGarry, who received over one million pounds for his services, as well as properties, an Aston Martin and overseas holidays, was sentenced to seven years in jail in 2011. Three lawyers charged alongside the two men were acquitted and a jury was unable to reach a verdict on another three.

The Serious Fraud Office, which charged Afzal in 2009, believes 55-year-old Nisar Afzal - who is still wanted in the UK for his role in the fraud - remains in Pakistan.

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Pravin Char)

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