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Businessman's 19 properties seized

A businessman has been ordered to hand over his family home and 18 other houses to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Thomas William Smyth, of Castletown Road in Ballynure, Co Antrim, is alleged to have obtained 19 houses through mortgage fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. Soca claimed that the 38-year-old fraudulently bought the properties in Co Antrim and Liverpool for the buy-to-let market.

At Belfast High Court yesterday, Mr Justice Treacy deemed his property portfolio to be the proceeds of crime. Soca's probe identified that between 2000 and 2007 Mr Smyth made numerous fraudulent mortgage applications to gain almost £2m in property loans.

Soca's Andy Lewis said: "Thomas Smyth deliberately abused the system for his personal gain."

Belfast Telegraph