Alleged mortgage fraudsters fight for name suppression
Four people alleged to have carried out $60 million in mortgage fraud are fighting in court to have their names kept secret.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) laid more than 100 charges under the Secret Commissions Act following an investigation into more than 70 allegedly deceptively obtained home loans.
The loans ranged in value from $270,000 to $3.4m for properties in Hamilton and Auckland.
The accused are a banker, lawyer, business director and a manager.
READ MORE: * Charges laid in alleged $60m mortgage fraud
The names of the banks involved and those charged have been suppressed.
All four defendants are on bail.
About 40 kickbacks worth $511,303, ranging in value from $5000 to $30,000, were allegedly paid from the lawyer to two bankers for processing and approving loan applications to purchase properties.
The lawyer is also alleged to have used a passport known to be false, as part of two loan applications for Hamilton properties.
The lawyer is facing 51 charges, including 40 of corruption and four of deception.
Appearing in the Auckland District Court on Wednesday the lawyer asked for name suppression, arguing that if their name was disclosed it would damage their former employer's reputation.
The defendant was described by his lawyer as being a good marketer in a thriving business that worked with a large number of clients.
The SFO argued there was public interest in the defendant's name being made public because the case involved allegedly serious offending.
The SFO said there would be only a small number of people who would associate the accused with their former employer.
The defendant was no longer practicing law and had surrendered their passport.
Giving evidence in Mandarin through an interpreter the manager, facing 34 charges of deceptively obtaining bank loans, said lifting name suppression would have a "devastating" affect on their property development business because it would lose the trust of its sub-contractors, who could walk off the job.
Lifting name suppression would also a negative impact on the health of their parents and in-laws, who were of ill health, the manager said.
Judge Philippa Cunningham said she did not accept that as a legitimate argument for name suppression, but was concerned about what impact lifting suppression would have on sub-contractors.
The banker, yet to present their argument in court, faces 25 charges for processing and approving a loan application that was known to be a false purchase or was reckless as to whether it was.
The director, also yet to present their argument, faces eight charges of deception and one of corruption.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison or a $1000 fine.
Judge Cunningham said interim name suppression would remain in place until after she had heard the full argument, which would next be presented on October 26.
She raised the possibility that name suppression could be lifted after a grace period that would allow the defendants to "make arrangements" with parties that may be affected.