Mortgage fraud in north Wales to see more prosecutions

Left to right: Antony Lowry Huws; Sheila Rose Whalley; Nicholas John Jones; Frank Edward Darlington
Image caption Four of the five defendants: Antony Lowry-Huws; Sheila Whalley; Nicholas Jones and Frank Darlington

A five-year investigation into north Wales' largest mortgage fraud will see further prosecutions say police.

Detectives on Operation Valgus are tracking how more than 1,000 mortgages were allegedly used to dupe lenders in the run up to the 2008 property crash.

Four people were jailed for a total of 21 years on Friday for their part in a scam involving 189 mortgages.

North Wales Police said: "Further individuals will face trial later this year."

Former police officer Antony Lowry-Huws, 65, from Kinmel Bay near Rhyl, was jailed for seven years at Mold Crown Court for leading the mortgage fraud worth up to £24m.

Others jailed with him were developer Sheila Whalley, 67, from Llanfairtalhaiarn in the Conwy Valley, solicitor Nicholas John Jones, 54, from Mold, and surveyor Frank Edward Darlington, 62, from Barnoldswick in Lancashire.

Image caption Judge Rhys Rowlands said it was a fraud of 'breath-taking' proportions

Huws's wife, Susan Lowry-Huws, 60, was given a 12-month prison sentence.

All five had denied conspiracy to defraud but were convicted following a four-month trial that ended in June.

The jury had to consider 50,000 items of evidence relating to 189 mortgage applications made between May 2003 and June 2008.

The prosecution said the deceit was achieved by inflating the actual value of the property used as security, hiding the fact that in some cases no deposit was put down, or inflating the rental income potential to make the mortgage rate more acceptable.

Speaking after the sentencing, Elspeth Pringle, specialist fraud prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "The scale, duration and sophistication of this fraudulent scheme are a demonstration of criminal behaviour at its most devious.

"The actions of the five members of this mortgage fraud ring were motivated by nothing more than greed, and their willingness to betray the trust of mortgage lenders for personal profit seemed to have no limits.

"Each of the co-conspirators sentenced had their own specific role to play in this intricate crime, and all were fully aware of the deceitfulness of their actions."

North Wales Police Det Ch Insp Iestyn Davies said: "Operation Valgus is reportedly the largest mortgage fraud ever investigated in England and Wales.

"It is the largest fraud ever to be investigated by North Wales Police by a considerable margin in terms of value, complexity and substantiality.

"Further individuals will face trial later this year in connection with the same investigation."

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