No extra jail for Vic home loan fraudsters

Three convicted fraudsters who used fake documents to obtain mortgages won't serve extra jail time.
Three convicted fraudsters who used fake documents to obtain mortgages won't serve extra jail time.

Three people who used fake documents to get $1.3 million in home loans will not spend any extra time behind bars, because they've already been sentenced for rorting millions of dollars in an education scam.

Baljit Singh, Rekha Arora and Mukesh Sharma were sentenced in Victoria's County Court on Thursday after they each pleaded guilty to using false documents in support of mortgage applications.

Singh and Arora, both 37, lied about their combined income when making a joint loan application with the Commonwealth Bank in 2011, deceiving the bank into giving them $1 million to purchase a property in Balwyn.

The husband and wife went on to refinance the loan in 2013 with Bankwest, again lying about their incomes to get a $1.1 million mortgage.

Meanwhile, Sharma, 45, falsely told the National Australia Bank he was working as a full-time IT manager earning $4446 a fortnight to score a $353,400 loan to buy a property in Tarneit.

"The every-day commercial relations which are so vitally important to our daily lives, depend on all parties acting in good faith without falsifying or misrepresenting their position," Judge Michael O'Connell told the court.

"To do otherwise undermines confidence in our system."

Singh was also sentenced on Thursday for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

In 2012, he commissioned a company to build a staircase at his Balwyn home but instructed they invoice $18,000 to St Stephen Institute of Technology, a training college he was operating along with the other offenders in Reservoir, and then lie to police about the transaction.

The trio was convicted in 2018 for receiving $2,007,487 in fraudulent subsidies while running the Reservoir college and another, Symbiosis Institute of Technical Education, in Footscray.

The schools operated out of rented premises, employed a skeleton staff and even had a number of classrooms and fake timetables. But they failed to provide any genuine teaching or assessments to students who, in some cases never actually enrolled.

Singh and Sharma are serving a six and five-year jail term respectively for their role in the education scam, while Arora was sentenced to three years prison but released on a $5000 bond to care for the couple's three children.

For the home loan scams, Sharma and Arora were sentenced to three months' jail while Singh received nine months.

Judge O'Connell, who also sentenced the trio in 2018, ordered the sentences be served simultaneously with their existing sentences, meaning they won't do any extra jail time.

A full copy of Judge O'Connell's remarks are available here: https://www.countycourt.vic.gov.au/news-and-media/news-listing/2019-11-14-sentencing-remarks-r-v-sharma-ors

Australian Associated Press