'Flash' McGarry and a [Pounds Sterling]26m Loans Fraud; Financial Mail Tracks Down the Man Who May Be the Link between Two Property Cons That Could Embroil Some of Britain's Biggest Companies
Byline: JEFF PRESTRIDGE
What at first it looked like a one-off fraud perpetrated on a small building society caught off guard for one fatal moment, has now become something far bigger - embroiling some of the country's biggest companies and involving hundreds of millions of pounds.
A month ago, we revealed the [pounds sterling]10 million fraud committed against Cheshire Building Society.
Financial Mail has now seen documents that confirm that French bank Societe Generale has also been stung by an identical fraud on a [pounds sterling]16 million property purchase.
And details are now emerging of newly formed property companies and individuals that connect the two multimillion pound frauds, with the same man, Ian 'Flash' McGarry, at the centre of both cases.
McGarry is City of London head of valuations for Dunlop Haywards, a subsidiary of Aim-listed property company Erinaceous Group, whose list of non-executive directors reads like a Who's Who of politicians and political advisers.
On Erinaceous's board is Lord Razzall of the Liberal Democrats and Lord Poole, previously a close associate of former Prime Minister Sir John Major.
Late last month, McGarry was arrested and then released without charge over the fraud at Cheshire, based on the overvaluation of commercial property in Birmingham. He remains suspended by Erinaceous pending an internal inquiry.
Financial Mail has established that he was also the person involved in an overvaluation of commercial property at Tattersett Business Park in Fakenham, Norfolk.
The frauds - according to details in the latest edition of weekly property magazine Estates Gazette - have been perpetrated by providing lenders with false valuations of properties against which they provide finance.
The valuations have been inflated by exaggerating the number of properties or through the use of false leases.
These leases, which the purchaser creates, have the effect of falsely bumping up the annual rent available from the properties, in turn inflating their value. …