Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

$9m fraud: Family in dock

Eli Devoy. Photo / NZ Herald
Eli Devoy. Photo / NZ Herald

A Remuera businesswoman allegedly headed a $9.2 million mortgage fraud scheme that involved her siblings, friends and 11 Auckland properties.

Eli Devoy, 44, - also known as Ellie Stone and Eli Ghorbani - was charged by the Serious Fraud Office yesterday with six other members of the Auckland Iranian community.

According to the SFO, the defendants are all friends and family of Devoy. Three are her brothers, one is her brother-in-law and another is her sister-in-law.

Devoy is labelled as the primary defendant in the case, where the SFO alleges false documents and information were used to deceive banks into providing mortgages between 2007 and 2010.

Some of the 11 properties were bought and sold more than once.

Devoy was involved in all of transactions in the scheme and in some instances was the true owner of properties bought in the names of co-defendants, the SFO claims.

It is alleged the $5.8 million worth of loans were obtained with the use of false information while the total property obtained in the alleged offending was $3.4 million. The SFO says Devoy was the main beneficiary of the scheme and she obtained nearly $475,000 from it.

In one instance Devoy and others allegedly provided documents to the bank to get a mortgage, saying the loan applicant was working fulltime for a company directed by one of the defendants.

However, the SFO claims this was untrue and the applicant was receiving no such income. Instead, deposits were made by one of the defendants into the applicant's account to make it look like a salary was being paid.

A loan of $302,700 was granted.

In another instance, it is alleged that Devoy applied for a mortgage in her sister's name and as part of the application stated her sibling worked at a hair salon.

However, the SFO says that no income was received from this salon and that false payslips were provided in support of the loan application.

A loan of $225,600 was provided for Devoy to purchase a property in Kelston, West Auckland.

In another case, the SFO alleges Devoy obtained power of attorney over an associate who didn't speak English and applied for a loan without her consent.

Devoy is said to have used false bank statements as part of this application where a loan of $248,000 was granted to purchase an Onehunga property in the woman's name.

Devoy faces 26 of the 48 Crimes Act charges laid by the SFO, which include obtaining by deception, dishonest use of a document and using forged documents.

The other defendants are: Mehrdad Ghorbani, Mehran Ghorbani, Nasrin Kardani, Mehrzad Ghorbani, Hassan Salarpour and Javad Toraby.

The five men and two women appeared in the Auckland District Court yesterday and were released on bail, according to SFO prosecutor Todd Simmonds.

They are due to reappear next month, when pleas are expected.

- NZ Herald

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