Fraud case lawyer ‘was the victim of extortion for years’
A solicitor accused of involvement in a multi-million pound property fraud was subjected to years of extortion, the High Court has heard.
Ho Ling Mo, who also allegedly helped organise sham marriages and swindled the legal aid system, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of the severity of assaults inflicted on her, according to her lawyer.
A judge was told that a hammer was used to forcibly remove bracelets from her during one attack.
Ms Mo (39), of Oakwood Park, Belfast, is charged with acquiring, converting and transferring criminal property.
She is further accused of false accounting, fraud by false representation, assisting unlawful immigration by organising sham marriages, cheating the public revenue, and conspiracy to conceal criminal property. The solicitor, who runs her own legal practice in Belfast, denies the offences.
She was refused bail by Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, who pointed to allegations that she has systematically dissipated more than £200,000 in assets while a probe into her financial affairs was continuing.
Her barrister, Charles McCreanor, told the court she claims to have been operating under duress and been subjected to assaults stretching back a decade.
He also disclosed that the Law Society has now notified Ms Mo's legal representatives of plans to seek part-attorney over her practice.
Although Mr McCreanor acknowledged Ms Mo would not be practising in the near future, he added that she still hoped that situation could change if she was cleared by a court of the charges against her.
A Crown lawyer told the court Ms Mo had made no response to police when issues of alleged duress were raised with her at interview. Ruling on the application, Sir Declan noted the accused's claims of having paid over funds because of extortion.
“She did not indicate who the person was the monies were paid to. She stated she was afraid to indicate who the person was.”
The judge noted that around £5 million in property was purchased through alleged mortgage fraud, according to the prosecution.