Manch­ester man guilty of £500k fraud

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LYNDA ROUGH­LEY

A MANCH­ESTER busi­ness­man has been con­victed of in­volve­ment in a huge in­ter­na­tional “ad­vance fee” fraud.

Michael Rash­man was found guilty of a fraud plot af­ter a four-week trial at Liver­pool Crown Court.

Dur­ing the trial, pros­e­cut­ing QC Jonathan Turner told the court that Rash­man was “a clever man — and this was a clever fraud.

“It went un­de­tected for six years and many peo­ple were taken in along the way, some los­ing their homes and their liveli­hoods, some their sel­f­re­spect and re­spect within their own com­mu­ni­ties, some their life sav­ings and some the life sav­ings of oth­ers who trusted them.” Vic­tims were “mer­ci­lessly conned”.

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

The case, Mr Turner said, in­volved a fraud com­mit­ted by peo­ple who charged fees in ad­vance for a ser­vice, which they had no in­ten­tion of per­form­ing.

Rash­man and his busi­ness part­ner, Carl Mont­lake, cre­ated and op­er­ated a num­ber of busi­nesses, be­gin­ning in 1990, trad­ing in the sub-prime mort­gage mar­ket for both res­i­den­tial and busi­ness prop­erty.

The main ve­hi­cle for the fraud was Al­liance In­ter­na­tional Ven­tures pur­port­edly of­fer­ing fund­ing to for­eign ap­pli­cants for for­eign com­mer­cial projects rang­ing from $1m to $120m.

Mont­lake, 47, of Spring Vale, Prest­wich, was con­victed at a pre­vi­ous hear­ing and given six years in prison.

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

The com­pany in­vited ap­proaches from for­eign busi­ness­men for plans or projects for which they re­quired fund­ing. Rash­man and Mont­lake claimed that if they liked the idea, they would then pro­vide or or­gan­ise fund­ing.

Dur­ing the fraud Al­liance Ven­tures re­ceived at least 275 re­quests in­volv­ing mil­lions of pounds, dol­lars and euros worth of busi­ness, most of them com­ing through bro­kers.

“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,” Mr Turner de­clared.

Al­though some bank records are miss­ing it was ap­par­ent that just un­der £500,000 had gone into Rash­man’s bank from Al­liance.

Judge Ger­ald Clifton fur­ther re­manded him on bail un­til June 9 for med­i­cal and pre-sen­tence re­ports. He is not al­lowed to travel out­side the UK.

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