Women plead guilty to $3.9 million fraud

Ramni Kumar (45) entered a guilty plea on January 20, 2014 in the Auckland District Court to 10 charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Ms Kumar and Vicki Ravana Letele (32), an associate, faced 10 joint charges under Section 228 of the Crimes Act for dishonestly using a document.

The charges related to 10 property transactions undertaken during the second half of 2010. Ms Letele also faces one additional charge under Section 228 alone.

The total value of the fraud is $3.9 million.

Ms Letele was the sole director/shareholder of Focus Property Investment Ltd (Focus). She resigned her directorship on July 9, 2011.

The Company was placed into liquidation on January 31, 2012.

False documents

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

Ms Kumar admitted using false documentation to obtain mortgage finance for low income families who would not otherwise have been able to obtain finance. She benefited by arranging for her (and allegedly that of her associate) contacts to make the initial purchase of the properties and then sell them to the mortgage recipients, thus generating a profit.

SFO Chief Executive Julie Read said that her Office had concerns about the potential for more incidents of mortgage fraud in the current market.

“A market with high demand for properties and rapidly rising prices creates opportunities for individuals to exploit vulnerable buyers. Lenders and buyers need to be alert to this risk,” she said.

Ms Kumar will reappear for sentencing on 11 March 2014.

Crimes Act offences

Everyone is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven 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.

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.

Its role is the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious or complex financial crime.

Source: Serious Fraud Office, Auckland


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