Ma­sonic pair ‘ran a six-year loans fraud’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LYNDA ROUGH­LEY

A MANCH­ESTER busi­ness­man was in­volved in a huge in­ter­na­tional “ad­vance fee” fraud, a court heard.

Michael Rash­man and fel­low Freema­son Carl Mont­lake are said to have cre­ated and op­er­ated a num­ber of busi­nesses, be­gin­ning in 1990.

The traded in the sub-prime mort­gage mar­ket for both res­i­den­tial and busi­ness prop­er­ties. Some busi­nesses traded at the same time.

The prime ve­hi­cle for the fraud was a com­pany called Al­liance In­ter­na­tional Ven­tures, which was formed af­ter 1997 to of­fer fund­ing for for­eign com­mer­cial projects rang­ing from $1m to $120m, the court was told.

Rash­man was de­scribed by Jonathan Turner QC, pros­e­cut­ing at Liver­pool crown Court, as “a clever man” in­volved in “a clever fraud”.

He said: “It went un­de­tected for six years and many peo­ple were taken in along the way, some los­ing their homes and liveli­hoods, some their self-re­spect and re­spect within their own com­mu­ni­ties, some their life sav­ings and some the life sav­ings of oth­ers who trusted them.”

Mr Rash­man, of Ker­sal Gar­dens, Sal­ford, de­nies con­spir­acy to de­fraud be­tween Jan­uary 1, 1998 and April 20, 2004.

Mr Turner told the jury that the fraud was com­mit­ted by peo­ple who charged fees in ad­vance for a ser­vice, which they had no in­ten­tion of per­form­ing and did not per­form.

Mont­lake, 47, of Spring Vale, Prest­wich, was con­victed of con­spir­acy at a pre­vi­ous hear­ing and is now serv­ing six years for his part in the fraud.

Ex­plain­ing the con­nec­tion, Mr Turner said that Mont­lake and Mr Rash­man were both mem­bers of a lodge in Manch­ester and were both Jewish.

Al­liance Ven­tures traded from an of­fice in Bury New Road in Sal­ford and later in Mid­dle­ton, as did an­other of their com­pa­nies, Prime Fi­nance Ltd.

Mr Rash­man played the lead­ing role for Prime but re­tained his part­ner­ship with Al­liance and was a co-sig­na­tory on the bank ac­count, claimed Mr Turner.

“The big de­ci­sions were al­ways mu­tual. For busi­ness pur­poses wit­nesses will say Mont­lake and Rash­man were in­sep­a­ra­ble,” he said.

“The com­pany pre­sented it­self as a lend­ing com­pany and in­vited ap­proaches from for­eign busi­ness­man for plans or projects for which they re­quired fund­ing.

“If they liked the idea it would be ap­praised and they claimed they would then pro­vide or or­gan­ise fund­ing.

“Al­liance was in the busi­ness of tak­ing money from peo­ple dis­hon­estly. Rash­man and Mont­lake knew all the time that there was sim­ply no money to lend — never had been, never would be — so whether their ap­praiser thought the project was a good one or not was com­pletely ir­rel­e­vant,” said Mr Turner.

The case con­tin­ues.

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