Terry Croft and Manoj Chauhan, two men convicted for their roles in a sophisticated conspiracy to commit property fraud against the blue chip water supplier Severn Trent, had their appeals refused today by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) in London.
Each was applying for leave to appeal against his conviction based on criticisms of the trial process, the fairness of proceedings and the way their cases were dealt with by the Judge in summing-up the trial.
They were both tried twice, prosecuted each time by Luke Blackburn leading Ben Isaacs, both complex fraud specialists at 7BR. The case was brought by the West Midlands Complex Casework Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service, and the West Midlands Police Economic Crime unit.
The case involved an insider who worked for Severn Trent. He sold well over a dozen properties at artificially surpassed prices to individuals in the know, having created a bogus market with only one real buyer. This was done by forging documents, putting pressure on estate agents and making other deceptions. That first buyer they sold the property on to an unsuspecting second buyer who had simply competed with others and paid the fair market price. The difference between the first and second price, sometimes tens of thousands or more, was the profit of the fraud, at the expense of the victim company, its customers and its shareholders.
The appeal against conviction was not the first time the defence teams had sought to appeal. After an adverse legal decision made before the second trial began, the defendants mounted an interlocutory appeal, which was also unsuccessful.
Mr Croft, who at his two trials privately instructed a leading Queen’s Counsel and junior, is a well-known Gloucestershire property developer. Mr Chauhan also works in property, and was represented at trial and at his appeal by a highly-respected leading junior based in Birmingham.
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