N/W News Team
A FATHER and daughter from Brierfield, who ran a £250,000 legal fraud scam, have pleaded guilty at court.
Mohammed Arshid Khatana, 51 and his daughter Mahria Khatana, 24, both of Hawkswood Gardens, Brierfield, Nelson, appeared at Preston Crown Court yesterday(Wednesday 25 July). Mohammed Khatana pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud. Mahria Khatana pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud.
They were arrested after a three year investigation by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and the Legal Services Commission, during which it was discovered they had committed a large number of legal service frauds amounting to in excess of £250,000.
Enquiries into the Khatana’s two companies - POCA Consulting Ltd and Ultima Consulting - revealed that despite having no legal qualification or accreditation, they would offer legal representation to clients in proceeds of crime and other criminal matters. Mohammed Khatana would visit with the client and arrange to transfer their legal aid to a solicitors firm and would charge up to £500 for the referral.
They were also found guilty of defrauding a 74-year-old man, who was facing confiscation proceedings for money laundering. Mahria Khatana obtained quotes for legal representation from a barristers firm in London. She then doubled the quotes and sent a £43,000 bill to the man – a fee which should have cost less than £10,000.
Mohammed Khatana was found guilty of attempting to enter into a money laundering arrangement following a seven day trial in April. This came after an undercover officer posed as the girlfriend of a drug dealer and met with Khatana where he gave her advice on how to launder drugs money.
Detective Superintendent Jason Hudson from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit said: “Khatana was a ruthless serial fraudster who was prepared to use his daughter to steal from a wide range of individuals for his own gain. We worked closely with the Legal Services Commission in identifying and stopping Khatana's abuse of the legal aid system."
Chief Executive of the Legal Services Commission Matthew Coats added: “The LSC worked closely with the police on this case and we are pleased that both accused has pleaded guilty. Legal aid funding is public money and we will not tolerate people trying to defraud the taxpayer.
"We are actively engaging with our partners across the public sector to rigorously pursue and combat fraud."
Both Khatana’s will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on 12 September.