Chartered surveyor accused of £3m mortgage fraud
16 July 2010
A chartered surveyor has been accused of "massively inflating" the value of a Staffordshire luxury manor house in order to dupe the prestigious Yorkshire Bank into giving out a £3m remortgage.
A member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, sixty-six-year-old Christopher Jarvis, of Hawcroft in Staffordshire, denies the charge of fraud brought against him at Stafford County Court this week.
He is accused of pricing Barn Beak Manor at nearly three and half times more than what other independent surveyors priced the property.
The court heard how Mr Jarvis valued the property at £4.25m when, according to Miss Jane Bewsey QC, other independent chartered surveyors came up with a best price of £1.3m. The property belonged to Paul Cope, a Stafford-based financier whose application for the remortgage was approved by Yorkshire Bank in January of 2008, following the £4.25 valuation.
The court heard how Mr Cope originally bought the Staffordshire manor in 2001 for £425,000 with a mortgage of £350,000. However, the couple continued to buy up the surrounding land, therefore raising the estate's value.
As a result it was remortgaged several times and at the end of 2007 Mr Cope approached Yorkshire Bank for the £3m remortgage. The valuation report that accompanied the application, written by Mr Jarvis, read: "large detached country manor, significantly extended in the modern manner, set in 19 acres".
Its features included a detached lodge residence, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, landscaped gardens, a substantial children's tree house, terraces, a top of the range security system with electric gates, a gymnasium and solarium, a planetarium with a telescope, a two-storey office suite and boardroom, an alpaca paddock and "a 500m sweeping driveway".
Mr Jarvis told the court that he believed the property to be "one of the best, if not the best in the Stafford area, with a standard of fittings considered to be peerless."
He also said that he had been in the business for 42 years without ever having been investigated before. In an interview with the police he said: "It was done by me in the full knowledge of what I was looking at. There were no comparisons in this instance, because it was such a unique