THREE British nationals and three Spaniards went on trial on Monday over a €17.3 million real estate scam involving UK citizens buying property in La Manga de Mar Menor.

The case is being heard at the Murcia Provincial Court in Cartagena.

The Prosecutor’s Office wants each defendant jailed for five years and to pay a daily fine of €12 for 10 months, as well as repaying all of the illegally-obtained money plus covering full legal costs.

The illegal transactions were carried between September 2005 and November 2006.

According to prosecutors, the manager and deputy manager of a La Manga bank branch granted- without guarantees- 327 mortgages totalling €67.7 million.

The employees approved the secured mortgages which should only have been paid after proof of solvency by the recipients.

Prosecutors stated that no background checks were carried out and none of those given the loans ended up living in Spain.

€46.2 million was paid for the homes plus another 78 personal loans amounting to €2.1 million for ‘multiple’ individuals in the UK to finance the purchase of La Manga real estate.

The loans granted for the properties were well above their true market value.

Of the total received, only a portion was used for the agreed purpose and the rest of the money allegedly went into the bank accounts of the six people accused.

The Prosecutor’s Office said the cash was disposed of by the defendants ‘for their own benefit or that of the companies linked to them’, with the intention of ‘enriching themselves illicitly’.

One of the defendants, the owner of a commercial company, provided the homes for sale- most of them from real estate developers. and two others supplied the buyers, all from the Plymouth area of England.

Another of the defendants, a company administrator and lawyer, acted as agent for the buyers in getting the loans and as a representative for the borrowers to open bank accounts for them.

The unnamed bank, which cancelled the loans, is claiming compensation as the properties were valued at €46.2 million while the loans came in at €67.7 million.

The homes were taken over by the banks in lieu of payment who say they have also waived ‘principal’ and ‘interest’ charges on the personal loans.

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