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BFCSA: No jail for two men involved in $170 million home loan fraud - Myra home loans worth $170 million relied on false documents.

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Home loan fraud 
No jail for two men involved in $170 million home loan fraud - Myra home loans worth $170 million relied on false documents.
16 December 2015
Sarah Danckert

Two men involved in what is thought to be Australia's biggest home loan fraud have avoided jail, after a court found they were exploited by the alleged mastermind of the $170 million scheme.

On Tuesday, Myra employee Mohamed Ahmed and former colleague and mortgage broker Aizaz Hassan were sentenced to a five-year community corrections order over their involvement in the "widespread financial conspiracy".

Both men pleaded guilty to one charge each of conspiracy to commit fraud, following an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Glen Waverley couple Najam Shah and Manija Zayee have also been charged over their alleged involvement in the scheme.

The County Court heard Mr Ahmed and Mr Hassan had worked at Myra, where 535 home loans totalling more than $170 million were drafted on behalf of Myra clients that relied on false documents, including fake pay slips, citizenship records, employment records and financial statements. 

The home loan fraud is believed to be the biggest in Australian history, with the court hearing 38 per cent of the home loans are either in arrears or subject to legal action.

The court heard the alleged head of the home loan rort, Mr Shah, received a financial benefit of $6 million from his involvement in the scheme, while Mr Ahmed received more than $37,000 in wages through his two-year employment at Myra and Mr Hassan received more than $61,000 in wages over a similar period.

The sentencing hearing also revealed a key figure alleged to be involved in the fraud, Giovanni Salvatore ("John") Chiaramonte, had fled the country and had not been charged.

Judge Elizabeth Lawson found Mr Ahmed and Mr Hassan had not been aware initially of the fraud and had joined Myra because both had difficulty obtaining work in the finance industry after finishing university.

"This is very serious offending," Judge Lawson said. "You both have no prior criminal history and there are no matters outstanding."

The judge added both men were employees of Myra and "were under the control of the architect of the scheme, Najam Shah".

Judge Lawson said both men had been "exploited" by Mr Shah.

In sentencing Mr Hassan, Judge Lawson said: "You present as a naive individual who was subject to exploitation by the older and more dominant character of Mr Shah."

Mr Hassan's sentence was also mitigated by the fact he left Myra before investigations began and Mr Hassan and had not taken Mr Shah's advice to flee the country.

Judge Lawson said Mr Ahmed's co-operation with authorities, including returning to Australia in the knowledge he would be questioned by authorities, and his very early plea had reduced his sentence.

Judge Lawson said both men would have been sentenced to five years in jail if not for the mitigating factors.

Mr Shah and Ms Zayee will face court in February at separate hearings.

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