The husband of a woman allegedly at the heart of a $6 million mortgage fraud has been summoned as a prosecution witness in the case against her.

Warren Devoy is one of 50 witnesses forming part of the Serious Fraud Office's case against his wife Eli Devoy and four of the family members who are in the dock with her.

Devoy, according to the SFO, is at the centre of a mortgage fraud, where banks lent almost $6 million on the back of allegedly false information and where properties were bought and sold between family members.

Businesswoman denies $9m fraud
$9m fraud: Family in dock


The trial began in the Auckland District Court yesterday with her denying 19 charges of obtaining by deception, two charges for dishonestly using a document and one of using forged documents.

Devoy's co-accused include her brothers, Mehrdad Ghorbani and Mehrzad Ghorbani, who both pleaded not guilty to six charges and four charges respectively of obtaining by deception.

Her sister-in-law, Nasrin Kardani, denied three charges of obtaining by deception and her brother-in-law Hassan Salarpour faces three charges, which he denied.

An associate of Devoy, Javad Toraby, faces two charges, to which he pleaded not guilty.

SFO prosecutor, Todd Simmonds, said the alleged offending followed a pattern where the defendants would purchase a property at a reduced price, often at a mortgagee sale.

Properties, in some instances, were sold on the same day for a higher price to a related party.

At least 11 properties were involved, and some were bought and sold more than once.
Where loans were required for the purchases, false documents were submitted to banks, Simmonds said.

Devoy was involved in all of the transactions, according to Simmonds, and six banks provided $5.8 million of loans on the back of false information knowingly provided by the defendants.

The total value of property obtained through this false information was just under $3.4 million, the prosecutor said.

Simmonds said Devoy got almost $760,000 as a result of the alleged offending, which took place between 2007 and 2010.

In one of the charges in the case, Mehrdad Ghorbani allegedly bought an Auckland property off his mother, who had purchased it on the same day from an unrelated owner.

Mehrdad paid $56,000 more for the property than his mother had, Simmonds said.

To fund that purchase, he applied for a loan from ANZ and his sister - Devoy - acted as his mortgage broker.

As part of that loan application, it was said Mehrdad worked as a subcontractor for a company directed by his younger brother and earned $950 each week, the court heard.

Simmonds said this statement was false and misleading as that company provided no income to Mehrdad and that it was arranged for his younger brother to deposit money into his bank account.

The three siblings knew this information was not true, Simmonds said.

"The Crown case is that defendants knew that what they were doing was wrong. That's why the deception was kept under wraps by the defendants. And the Crown says that as a matter of common sense, the defendants cannot possibly have thought that this misleading and deceptive conduct was lawful," he said later.

Devoy is also accused of applying for a loan in the name of one of her associates, Nasrin Raisey.

Raisey had earlier approached Devoy to help her sell a business as she was going overseas.

The woman gave Devoy power of attorney, which enabled her to buy and sell houses in Raisey's name, Simmonds said.

In 2009, Devoy allegedly applied for a $248,000 loan in Raisey's name to purchase a property in Heretaunga Ave in Onehunga.

As part of the loan application, Devoy provided payslips and bank statements in Raisey's name that contained false information, Simmonds alleged.

Raisey did not know or consent to Devoy applying for the loan in her name, the SFO's lawyer said.

Only three of the defendants chose to making opening statements.

Mehrdad Ghorbani, representing himself, said he was confident he had a legitimate defence to all charges.

Salarpour's lawyer, Jo Scott, said her client had no part in creating many of the allegedly false documents behind the charges he faced.

The lawyer for Toraby, Hugh Leabourn, said his client did not supply information or documents knowing that they were untruthful or with the intention to deceive.

The trial continues before Judge Brook Gibson, without a jury, and is expected to last up to six weeks.