Lutfur Rahman, ex-Mayor of Tower Hamlets, has been damned once again by the law of the land. A strongly worded press statement released today by Richard Slade & Company, solicitor for the electoral petitioners, details why the latest court judgement against Rahman has found him to be “a mortgage fraudster and tax evader” and Mrs. Rahman (aka Mrs Ayesha Farid) has been called an “unreliable witness who adjusts her evidence under pressure.”
On Tuesday this week Mr Rahman failed in his bid to overturn a five year order banning him from public office and today (Friday 29 January 2016) his wife’s claim that she owned a large portion of Mr Rahman’s buy to let property was rejected in the High Court.
- Ayesha Farid is in front of the High Court of Justice Chancery Division claiming she is a beneficiary of a property within her husband’s name (The Wharf, 3 December 2015)
The not so Artful Dodger
Today’s ruling is a significant defeat for Rahman in his continuing attempts to avoid paying costs awarded against him last year, despite declaring himself bankrupt.
File photo: A shy Lutfur Rahman looks like he is going fishing.
Now that 3 Grace Street has been judged to be owned by Rahman it should now be available to be sold to cover the petitioners costs.
Four residents of Tower Hamlets launched a successful petition following the Mayor’s election in May 2014, and consequently Rahman was removed from office as Mayor of Tower Hamlets after a six week trial that ended last April. He was found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices and banned from public office for five years.
Mr Rahman was ordered to pay an initial £250,000 of the petitioners’ legal costs – the full amount was over £500,000. He has so far failed to pay the petitioners a penny and instead has racked up many thousand pounds of further fees from his own lawyers, in further attempts to deny the election petitioners justice.
The petitioners put legal charges on Mr Rahman’s properties to secure the debt but Mrs Rahman (aka Mrs Ayesha Farid) claimed that she owned 100% of one of the properties, 3 Grace Street, and 74% of the other even though Mr Rahman had applied for the mortgages and they are registered only in his name.
“Both Mr Rahman and his wife Mrs Farid have done everything possible to put obstacles in the way of the petitioners receiving justice,” said Caroline Turner of Richard Slade & Company, solicitor for the petitioners.”However, they have so far failed in all their attempts to thwart the election petitioners.”
“First Mr Rahman failed to pay the £250,000 he owed to the petitioners, then Mrs Farid said she owned Mr Rahman’s two properties. Mr Rahman declared himself bankrupt just before the trial about the ownership of the properties in another attempt to put the properties out of reach of the petitioners. Only one of the two properties could be considered at the trial.”
Today a court has thrown out Mrs Rahman’s claim to own the property and has branded her “a thoroughly unsatisfactory and unreliable witness” who was “willing to alter and extend her case when challenged”.
Baffled? We usually are. Reading these previous posts may (or may not) help.
- Lutfur Rahman’s properties and a mansion in Bangladesh
- Tower Hamlets ex-Mayor faces financial ruin as noose tightens
Lutfur Rahman – mortgage cheat
In 2005 Mr Rahman purchased two properties in East London and applied for separate mortgages for each, from different mortgage companies.
The mortgage applications were made with the assistance of a mortgage broker, Mr Lucho Pekov, and signed on 3rd and 4th March 2005.
Mr Rahman told the mortgage companies that one was to be used for a residence and the other as buy to let. In fact both properties were let from the outset.
Furthermore, Mr Rahman certified to both mortgage companies that he was a first time buyer. Both properties have soared in value over the years.
The judge, Chief Master Marsh commented in his judgment “Both Mr Rahman and his broker must have been aware that they were providing misleading information to the two proposed lenders and furthermore that the details of Mr Rahman’s earnings were being considered by both lenders on the assumption that there was to be no other loan. ”
Mrs Farid claimed that she and Mr Rahman had signed a trust deed in 2006 that stated that because she had contributed 74% of the deposit money for the purchase of one of the houses, and 100% of the other, she now owned 74% of one property and 100% of the other.
However, the judge found that she had no documentary evidence to back up her claims and that she and Mr Rahman had treated the houses as if they both belonged solely to him.
The trusts were found by the judge to be a sham.
Mr Rahman and Mrs Farid did not reveal the existence of the declaration of trust to the world at large. The judge concluded that the trust was prepared in order to be available, if needed.
Mr & Mrs Rahman – Tax Cheats
Both Mr Rahman and Mrs Farid were found by the court to be tax cheats.
Chief Master Marsh said: “the rental incomes for both properties was paid into Mr Rahman’s bank account and the outgoings for the properties were paid by him. Neither he nor Mrs Rahman declared the rental income to HMRC”.
Farid – thoroughly unsatisfactory and unreliable witness
The judge said that Mrs Farid showed “a singular lack of co-operation” in providing evidence.
Even though Mrs Farid had been pressed, from July last year until September to provide details of all her bank and savings accounts she had insisted she did not have any savings accounts.
Then in court she suddenly disclosed that she had a savings account at HSBC that she had not previously mentioned.
The judge said “There were clear signs of Mrs Farid adjusting her evidence under pressure” and that she withheld “information which did not fit her case”.
The judge commented: “I consider that Mrs Farid’s cavalier attitude to disclosure is symptomatic of her approach to evidence generally. In short I found her to be a thoroughly unsatisfactory and unreliable witness.”
On Tuesday this week two top judges considered Mr Rahman’s application to review four of his guilty verdicts in the Election Petition and reduce his ban from public office from five to three years.
They told him he had no chance of overturning the guilty judgments for illegally paying political canvassers, and for corruption, by bribing the electorate.
He was given permission to challenge the conviction for encouraging religious leaders to influence voters on the basis that this was arguable as a matter of general interest.
However he will remain banned from public office for five years and is not allowed to overturn the judgment that he must pay the Election Petitioners’ costs.
Azmal Hussein, one of the petitioners said: “This is another win for the petitioners”
Read today’s judgement
Courtesy of one of Love Wapping’s RCJ Reporting Team please find below a link to the full transcript of the judgement.
N.B. Publication of this small but important post does not mean Love Wapping is back – but we just couldn’t resist!