SFO charges laid in another mortgage fraud

Published

SFO charges laid in another mortgage fraud

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has laid charges against Ramni Kumar (45) and Vicki Ravana Letele (32) in the Manukau District Court today.

Ms Kumar and Ms Letele face 10 joint charges under Section 228 of the Crimes Act for dishonestly using a document. The charges relate to 10 property transactions undertaken during the second half of 2010. Letele faces one additional charge under Section 228 alone. The total value of the alleged fraud is $3.9 million.

SFO alleges that Ms Kumar and Ms Letele conspired to obtain mortgage finance for low income families who would not otherwise have been able to obtain finance, by using false documentation. It is also alleged that when the eventual purchases took place, the properties were purchased from interests related to Ms Kumar and Ms Letele, generating a profit.

Acting Chief Executive of SFO, Simon McArley said, "Mortgage fraud not only increases overall borrowing costs but leaves vulnerable families burdened with insupportable debt. Where SFO believes organised or coordinated mortgage fraud is taking place, it will intervene to disrupt and deter this activity."

The accused will reappear on 18 July.

ENDS

For further information

Andrea Linton
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background to investigation

Ex-bank employee, Vinod Rathore who approved loan applications subject to the SFO charges in this investigation. He currently resides in Australia.

Vicky Ravana Letele was the sole director/shareholder of Focus Property Investment Ltd (Focus). On 9 July 2011 she resigned her directorship the company was placed into liquidation on the 31 January 2012.

Focus was established to broker the selling and arranging of mortgages for first home buyers on low income.

Crimes Act offences

Section 228 Dishonestly taking or using document
Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration,-
(a) dishonestly and without claim of right, takes or obtains any document; or
(b) dishonestly and without claim of right, uses or attempts to use any document.

About SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act in response to the collapse of financial markets in New Zealand at that time.

SFO's role is the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious or complex financial crime. SFO's focus is on investigating and prosecuting criminal cases that will have a real effect on:

  • business and investor confidence in our financial markets and economy
  • public confidence in our justice system and public service
  • New Zealand's international business reputation.

SFO operates three investigative teams:

  • Evaluation and Intelligence;
  • Financial Markets and Corporate Fraud; and
  • Fraud and Corruption.

SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.

Part I of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director "has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud."

Part II of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: "...the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed..."

SFO's Annual Report 2012 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2013-2016 sets out the SFO's three year strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at: www.sfo.govt.nz