Monday, 24 August 2020


There was another High Court case last week which yet again more than hints of a big iceberg of mortgage fraud lurking beneath the choppy surface of Ireland's financial stew. A year ago my Sunday World colleague Niamh O'Connor wrote about a dodgy broker who organised hundreds of mortgages, providing fake documents whenever needed as part of the service. Then, in March the Dail Accounts Committee heard about 'Builder Bailout Fraud' from the head of the Criminal Assets Bureau. Bank execs at the same hearings were confident that they had caught the handful of fake applications.
I think the bankers are living in a wonderland.
The case in the High Court, last week involved Limerick solicitor Michael Small, Carrick House, Newenham Street, Limerick. The Law Society applied to have his accounts frozen. They claimed he operated a secret client account that was €1.2 million in deficit. The lawyer for the Law Society said it was uncertain what was going on, but that Small appeared to be involved with broker where fake valuations of properties were given.
The week before the Law Society were in court over solicitor Eamon Comiskey from Portlaoise and his apparent failure to pay mortgage arrears in property transaction.
The recent cases are small fry compared to Michael Lynn and Thomas Byrne but they all centre around solicitors being allowed to 'self-certify.'
But the real point is that the banks weren't careful during the property goldrush and now they are stuck with some very dodgy loans.
There have been plenty of cases of mortgage fraud in the UK and and US. Last week the Chelsea building society in the UK revealed it had uncovered st£41million of mortgage fraud in which brokers, valuers and solicitors are suspected of inflating prices on buy-to-let schemes.
It would be extremely naive to expect that the situation in Ireland is any different. It's definitely a case of: "Watch this space."

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