Six nabbed in commercial fraud raid

Six suspects have been arrested during a Serious Fraud Office-led search operation on 19 properties throughout England. Three are being held in custody to appear before magistrates later today.

The action relates to an investigation into suspected advance fee fraud and commercial rent fraud. The searches, involving more than a hundred investigators and police officers, took place yesterday to prevent further loss to victims.

Operating as Gresham Ltd and Gresham Finance (London) Ltd the company offered commercial loans of up to £250 million. It promoted its services by advertising in newspapers, magazines and on the internet. Applicants for loans were charged between five and fifty thousand pounds for a due diligence check. Most of the applications came from overseas for commercial projects such as developing resorts and building hotels (in Austria, Turkey and other countries).

Once an applicant had paid the due diligence fee there was a next-stage payment (a security deposit) set at between 1% and 5% of the loan amount. Various other company names were also used to offer a similar service.

The same suspects were also involved in a retail property renting business operating as Gresham Ltd, Park Regent Ltd and Castlereagh London Ltd. The suspects used a complex number of company names in their business dealings, including the following: 45 Oxford St Ltd, Alliance Trust, Renaissance Trust, Cutting and Company (Investments) Limited and Paul Street Media Limited.

Search warrants were executed at 18 addresses in London, Surrey, Cheshire and Derbyshire in a mixture of commercial and residential properties. The searches involved 70 personnel from the SFO and 40 officers provided by the City of London Police, the Derbyshire Constabulary and the Cheshire Police.

Five men and one woman have been arrested and three will appear in court later today at City of London Magistrates Court.

The SFO are continuing enquiries into this case and would like to hear from anyone who believes that they might have information useful to the investigation. The number to call is 020 7239 7079.

Gresham Finance (London) Ltd is not to be confused with Gresham Finance Ltd, which is an unconnected company and not under investigation. Similarly, Castlereagh London Ltd is not to be confused with Castlereagh Ltd of Dublin, which is also an unconnected company and not under investigation.