Author: Niall Hearty 30 November 2021
The Serious Fraud Office has ended its 15-year pursuit of a property tycoon suspected of involvement in a £50 million mortgage fraud.
The agency announced it was closing its investigation into Nisar Afzal, who is now no longer subject to an arrest warrant. The British-Pakistani property tycoon fled to Pakistan before he could be charged in connection with a large-scale fraud against money lenders.
Afzal had been accused of organising the fraudulent mortgage scheme with his brother, Saghir, who was sentenced to 13 years for his involvement in it. The SFO had alleged that the brothers worked with a surveyor who provided false valuations to persuade lenders to offer mortgages for far more than properties were worth.
The SFO seized £1.52 million from Afzal's bank account in 2019, saying that the money came from the sale of two properties in Birmingham that he had bought with the proceeds of crime. The agency also seized jewellery worth £500,000 last year from a safe deposit box belonging to Afzal's former partner.
Afzal’s case is one of a growing number of investigations to have been dropped by the SFO since its current Director Lisa Osofsky took charge three years ago.
Some may query why it has taken such a long time to investigate Afzal and come to the decision to end the investigation into him now. This decision comes 10 years after his brother was jailed over the mortgage fraud. The cost of such a long-running investigation may prove to be an embarrassment to the SFO.
This article originally featured on Mondaq, it can be read here.
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