Bath property developer accused of masterminding housing fraud scheme
A property developer from Bath masterminded an extensive housing fraud scheme to fund a holiday home project in Thailand, a court has heard.
Shane Davies, 40, who used to live in Bath but now lives at New Terrace, in Staverton, Trowbridge, his mother Sheila Davies, 59, of Raby Place, Bathwick, and two others, 43-year-old Karl Manning, of The Brow, in Twerton, and 38-year-old Jason Ford, of Redland Park, Twerton, are all on trial at Bristol Crown Court.
The prosecution alleges they were involved, in varying degrees, in an 11-year scheme to falsify mortgage applications to borrow money and buy houses around the city and further afield.
It says these properties were then rented out, and the income used to help pay for Mr Davies’ building development in Thailand.
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In his opening statement, prosecutor Alun Jenkins said the scheme had allowed Mr Davies to “build up a huge criminally-obtained property empire”.
He added: “The great thing that any fraud lawyer will tell you is to follow the money and you get to the person who is most involved.
“Follow the money because the purpose of putting forward the false representations is to do something. What? What you have in this case is that money is going to Shane Davies and then on to Bangkok.”
The jury was shown copies of financial documents, including mortgage applications to various banks, which the prosecution says were falsified to mislead lenders and secure loans.
Most of the alleged fraud revolves around people pretending they were earning vastly more than they actually were to borrow money to buy new properties or re-mortgage existing ones.
All four defendants are facing charges of conspiracy to defraud, together with three other men, who are not on trial, between January 2000 and January 2011.
Mr Jenkins said that a number of men had been used as “puppets” to buy houses, including in Argyle Terrace, Sedgemoor Road, Lower East Hayes and Victoria Terrace, which were then handed over to the Davies family.
Police officers discovered handwritten copies of Mr Davies’s draft will, which listed the houses as owned by him, despite the fact they were bought by other people, and outlining how they should be divided up among his family and friends in the event of his death.
Mr Jenkins said: “The mortgagees’ intentions in increasing their wages can only be seen as dishonest. In some cases there is clear evidence of Shane Davies encouraging and assisting the mortgagees.
“Throughout the conspiracy, Shane Davies has been aided by his mother, who used her address as a postal address to allow her son to compile a property empire.”
The trial follows an investigation by the Operation Zephyr regional crime squad which resulted in dawn raids across Bath in February 2011.
All four defendants deny the charges and the trial, which effectively began on Monday after a week of legal debates, is expected to go on until early March.
No defence statements have been put forward yet and the case continues.