A woman charged over alleged involvement in one of Australia’s largest home loan frauds faced court in Melbourne yesterday.
Manija Zayee is yet to enter a plea on charges linked to an alleged $110 million home loan fraud.
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Zayee was charged after a lengthy investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission into the activities of her mortgage broker partner Najam Shah and colleague Aizaz Hassan.
The fraud allegedly involved using fake documents to apply for at least 350 loans with numerous lenders, including the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ, National Australia Bank and others.
ASIC alleges they submitted bank statements, pay slips, citizenship certificates and statutory declarations on behalf of clients from the now-defunct suburban Footscray company Myra Financial Services, where they worked, for loan applications between 2008 and 2011.
The company was registered in Zayee’s name.
Zayee has been charged with obtaining a financial advantage by deception by submitting false documents to secure a $136,000 loan from the Bank of Queensland.
Siobhan Hayden, chief executive of the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia, told SmartCompany the MFAA only became aware of the fraud when Shah and Hassan were arrested.
Shah was a mortgage broker and previously registered with the MFAA but Hassan only acted as an introducer.
“It appears that the fraud has been perpetrated around validating deposits and employment credentials,” Hayden says.
“I’m keen like a lot of people to understand how it has been done, they have obviously used quite a sophisticated system. I would have to assume here the consumers were well aware of what is being structured for them so they could secure the loan.”
Hayden says from her discussion with the lenders involved she understands not one loan is in fault with only a few in slight arrears.
“$110 million has not been lost, it has been fraudulently acquired but the banks are still processing it,” she says.
Hayden says the MFAA did not have to cancel Shah’s registration as it had already expired two months prior to the exposure of the alleged fraud.
“You can’t mitigate when someone chooses to be fraudulent,” she says.
Hayden says people should still have confidence in the integrity of mortgage brokers.
“Nearly 52% of loans introduced to lenders today are by brokers, so consumer confidence in brokers is still high,” she says.
“If any consumer ever feels uncomfortable about services provided they should contact the MFAA to raise a concern.”
ASIC has come under fire for its investigation of the alleged fraud after it was revealed Hassan was capable of writing loans until his accreditation was stopped on January 6, 2015.
Hassan appeared before a bail justice on January 2, 2015.
A spokesperson for ASIC defended the regulators role noting that the investigation into Myra Financial Services had been conducted over several years.
“It has necessarily been a long, complex and at times extremely sensitive operation,” the spokesperson said.
“There are some important parts of the investigation which we are not able to divulge.”
The spokesperson said ASIC does not as a rule flag an impending arrest to an employer or to other related parties.
“To do so would increase the risk of the person of interest being tipped off, even if this was inadvertent,” the spokesperson said.
“It would potentially place the employer in a compromised position. For example, the employer may wish to suddenly treat the employee differently – perhaps even sack them.”
A committal hearing for Zayee has been set for April 17, the same date Shah and Hassan will next appear in court.