Saturday 26 May 2018

Irishman set to be extradited to the US on alleged fraud, money-laundering and identity-theft

The Four Courts, Dublin
The Four Courts, Dublin

Tim Healy

An Irishman man wanted in the US for alleged fraud, money-laundering and identity-theft has lost an appeal against his extradition.

Patrick Lee (42), of Newtown, Co Kildare, has however been freed on conditional bail by the Court of Appeal pending his application to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal against the extradition order.

The case raises "difficult legal issues", Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, one of the appeal court judges, observed.

Mr Lee denies claims he knowingly engaged in a scheme with others to intentionally defraud numerous US banks and mortgage lenders out of loans for properties which were never repaid.

The US wants to prosecute him for offences including wire fraud, unlawful monetary transaction and aggravated identity theft which carry a total maximum prison sentence of up to 42 years.

The High Court was told a number of properties were purchased in several locations around Boston between 2006 and 2007 and subsequently converted into one or more apartments.

It was alleged “straw buyers” were recruited to buy properties, assured the properties would be resold within six months and received up to $20,000 (€17,650) each in exchange for their date of birth, social security number and signatures, all of which were required to draw down the mortgage loans.

Mr Lee is alleged to have fraudulently prepared appraisals of the properties and to have received about $1 million (€88m) for his alleged role in the scheme.

All of the properties fell into foreclosure, the lenders lost a lot of money and fraud is alleged to have occurred when the lenders wired the mortgage loans to real estate lawyers who closed the sales, the court heard.

After the High Court ordered his extradition, he appealed that decision.

Today a three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal.

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