US-based Guyanese businessman Edul Ahmad, who was last Friday slapped with mortgage fraud charges, allegedly conspired on numerous occasions, to obtain mortgage loans from lenders through fraudulent means, according to a complaint filed against him in the New York Eastern District court by FBI Special Agent Bryan J Trebelhorn.
The Guyanese man also used his wife to purchase a property in one instance and named himself as her landlord, the FBI agent has revealed.
Trebelhorn’s affidavit, which was filed under seal last Thursday, one day before Ahmad was arrested and charged and later released on US$2.5M bail, said that during 2006 and 2007 alone Ahmad participated in the preparation of some 163 mortgage loan applications to Country-wide Home Loans for which the company suffered losses.
On Friday, Ahmad, who in recent months has been relocating his business to Guyana from New York amid reports that he faced legal troubles in the US, appeared before Magistrate Judge Andrew L Carter, Jr, and was released on bail after one surety was signed, according to court proceedings seen by this newspaper.
The well-known businessman, whose name has been linked to mortgage fraud for some years now, more recently came under scrutiny in relation to a US$40,000 loan made over three years ago to NY Congressman Ed Meeks. Ahmad was brought down by persons who have worked for him in the past. One of the cooperating witnesses (CW) was employed with him for some 15 years, the FBI agent’s affidavit said.
According to the charge, on or about and between January 1 and July 31, 2007, Ahmad together with others, did knowingly and intentionally conspire to execute a scheme and artifice to defraud Countrywide Home Loans, and to obtain money, funds, credit, assets, securities, or other property, owned by and under the custody and control of the financial institution, by means of materially false and fraudulent pretences, representations and promises, contrary to Title 18, of the United States Code, Section 1344.
Giving an overview of the mortgage fraud scheme, the FBI agent in his affidavit stated that since approximately 2000, a group of co-conspirators has defrauded various lending institutions by obtaining mortgages on properties located in New York and elsewhere through fraudulent means. The means included falsifying mortgage loan applications, appraisals, title reports and other documents. The false information made the borrowers appear to be more creditworthy, and falsely enhanced the purported value of the properties. As a result, the lenders were fraudulently induced to issue mortgage loans secured by the properties. The fraud is committed by recruiting straw buyers to pose as the purchasers of some of the properties. The straw buyers generally were individuals with good credit scores, but with income and assets that were insufficient to secure a mortgage loan. When the straw buyer applies for the loan to purchase the property it is the co-conspirator who is the real owner of the property and in exchange for the use of their names and good credit, the straw buyers often received a fee.
Ahmad is accused of conspiring with others to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans from Countrywide, through the use of straw buyers for a property in South Ozone Park, New York and a property located in Jamaica, New York. Using fake credit information pertaining to two straw buyers, Ahmad is said to have obtained bank financing for the South Ozone Park property and the Jamaica property.
South Ozone property
According to the FBI agent through his investigation he retrieved mortgage loan documents for the South Ozone Park property dated June 28, 2007. The amount of the mortgage loan was US$417,000 and the lending institution was Countrywide, which was insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
“This mortgage application contains numerous material misstatements as to the creditworthiness of straw buyer,” the agent said.
He pointed out that for example, the mortgage application stated that straw buyer 1 earned US$9,850 per month as an executive chef at the Catering Business, which was owned by Ahmad. Additionally, the mortgage loan document falsely stated that the straw buyer intended to occupy the property as a primary residence and listed a variation of Ahmad’s name ‘A. Edul’ as the landlord and also that the buyer did not intend to own any other real estate properties.
During his investigation, the FBI agent spoke to a CW, who has pleaded guilty to bank fraud charges arising from his/her participation in the mortgage fraud scheme and is cooperating with the government in the hope of receiving a lesser sentence. It was this CW who worked in Ahmad’s business for the 15 years and who knew both Ahmad and straw buyer 1 well. The witness said that at all material times relevant Ahmad and straw buyer 1 were married and never intended to live in the South Ozone property but instead lived together in a different resident.
The CW also revealed that while Ahmad owned the Catering Business, his wife never worked there as a chef or in other capacity and that on numerous occasions she purchased properties on behalf of Ahmad.
Additionally, the FBI agent said, a confidential source (CS-1) similarly informed the government that Ahmad’s wife never worked for him while another witness, CW-2, who worked for Ahmad at the Mortgage Business for several years informed that they participated in the preparation of the mortgage application for the South Ozone property. The source also said Ahmad was the principal author of the application and his wife purchased the property on his behalf.
The FBI agent said he had also retrieved mortgage documents for the Jamaica property dated March 16, 2007 with the amount of the loan being US$292,500 and the lending bank was Countrywide. The purported purchaser for this property was straw buyer 2.
The mortgage application for straw buyer 2 included numerous material misstatements as to his/her creditworthiness one of which was that s/he earned US$6, 650 per month as a ‘catering manager’ at the Catering Business. Additionally, the documents falsely stated that straw buyer 2 intended to own and occupy the property. The mortgage application included a certification of employment for the buyer attesting that the Mortgage Business had consulted with a ‘manger’ at the Catering Business and verified that the buyer had been employed with the Catering Business since November 2002.
“The investigation has revealed that straw buyer 2 never worked at the Catering Business, but rather was employed as a real estate agent at the Real Estate Business,” the FBI agent said.
The agent said he had interviewed straw buyer 2 earlier this year and the person never worked for the Catering Business, but in March 2007 was employed as a real estate agent at the Real Estate Business and never intended to occupy the Jamaica property as a primary residence. Straw buyer 2 also told the FBI that the property was purchased together with Ahmad and that Ahmad paid straw buyer 2 for participating in the transaction. Ahmad is not listed as a borrower on the mortgage application.
Meanwhile, since Ahmad set up a hardware business at the Industrial Site, Ruimveldt premises of the Mirror newspaper questions had been raised as to why the Mirror – semi official organ of the PPP – would rent its premises to him given the questions that had been raised about him in the US. Ahmad has cultivated close ties to several leading members of the PPP/C.