2 May 2012
www.lawgazette.co.uk - Thursday 17 June 2010
Who? Aziz Rahman, 36, serious fraud and business crime solicitor at Halifax firm Rahman Ravelli.
Why is he in the news? Acts for property developer Simon Morris, who was left bankrupt after a three-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was dropped without charges earlier this month.
Morris amassed an estimated £69m fortune through his SR Morris Group property business, and was a director of Leeds United Football Club.
In autumn 2007, a BBC Panorama programme examined claims by investors that, through the collusion of valuers, they had paid too much for buy-to-let properties bought from Morris's business. Morris was investigated by the SFO over allegations of mortgage and property fraud and his company collapsed with estimated debts of £50m during the investigation.
Rahman, acting for Morris throughout the investigation, challenged the SFO and West Yorkshire police to produce evidence and clarify the nature of the allegations against his client.
Following the discontinuation of the case, he said: "We are now looking back very carefully at the investigation and the way it was conducted. Only when we have concluded our review can we decide what steps – if any – we should take next."
An SFO spokeswoman said: "Following an investigation into suspected property fraud.. by Morris Group Limited.. the SFO has decided there is insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution and has discontinued the case."
Thoughts on the case: "This case really does show the drastic consequences that can flow from a lengthy and expensive investigation.
"Successful people can be ruined at the mere whiff of an allegation, and when the allegation amounts to nothing, little or no consideration is given to repairing the damage – all we got was a letter saying the case had been dropped."
Dealing with the media: "The Simon Morris case had a high media profile from day one – a young and successful businessman, the youngest ever Leeds United FC director, was facing allegations of fraud.
"The problem was that leaks to the media fostered a perception of guilty until proven innocent, and his business folded."