Adviser given ‘conditional discharge’ over £1.5m fraud

A Northern Irish mortgage adviser has been convicted and handed a ‘conditional discharge’ for failure to disclose money laundering, in the conclusion of a £1.5m mortgage fraud case.

Businessman John Gaile along with members of his family and solicitor John Hickey had profited to the tune of £478,000 by applying for mortgages using inflated purchase prices for business and residential properties mainly in the Coleraine area of Northern Ireland.

Financial investigators calculated the total value of the mortgages obtained and subject to pleas entered in court was in excess of £1.5m. The loss to lenders through repossessions amounted to more than £557,000.

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The majority of mortgages sought had been obtained using the services of Holywood-based independent mortgage adviser William Larmour, who was said to have made around £5,000 in fees.

From September 1995 until April 2008 Mr Gaile sold the properties, sometimes to family members or to Mr Hickey, either taking the profit gained or using it to fund the purchase of another property whose mortgage was similarly obtained by deception.

Although sentencing took place in June, matters can only now be reported following the completion of other proceedings, according to a statement from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Organised Crime Branch welcoming the sentences imposed.

Mr Gaile, Mr Hickey and Mr Larmour were sentenced on 18 June at Laganside Court, along with co-accused Paul Gaile, Lena Gaile, Lee Paul Gaile and Kieran Gaile. They pleaded guilty to a total of 76 charges, including mortgage fraud and acquiring criminal property.

John Gaile got two years’ jail, suspended for three years, for 19 counts involving obtaining services by deception, acquiring and converting criminal property. Mr Hickey got two years’ jail, suspended for three years, for 51 counts involving obtaining services by deception, fraud by false representation and money laundering.

Mr Larmour received a conditional discharge for failing to disclose money laundering.

Sam Kinkaid, a detective constable from Organised Crime Branch, said: “The scam involved the use of false purchase prices which were provided to various lenders through financial advisor William Larmour and solicitor John Hickey.

“Hickey became part of the scam to defraud lenders and then used the system to buy properties himself. He has been struck off by the Law Society.”