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The image of the Candy brothers.

Candy brothers fall for £6m property fraud

Cases

April 12, 2024

Candy brothers victims of property swindle


The Candy brothers, two of London’s best known property entrepreneurs - whose reputations have been put to the test by a series of subsequent scandals - have emerged as the victims of an audacious swindle perpetrated by four pensioners who pretended to own a 47-acre Berkshire estate. The quartet have just been jailed for the fraud, in which the Candys and their bankers, HBOS, bought King's Beeches, a property once owned by the King of Thailand.

The real owner, billionaire Saudi sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz, was not aware of the fraudulent sale.

The Berkshire plot was bought in 2004, sometime before Nick and Christian Candy rose to prominence as the pair behind some of the most high-end deals in London’s property boom, including the £1bn purchase of Chelsea Barracks last year. They were gulled into buying the site for £6.5m on the basis of flawed paperwork that wrongly suggested that the fraudsters had been the real owners.

After the fraud was detected, the brothers won a separate civil case against the Land Registry, the guardian of Britain’s land rights, which had inadvertently allowed the Berkshire deal to go ahead. As a result, the registry had to make its biggest ever compensation payment of £8m, including legal fees, which was shared between the brothers and HBOS.

 

The Land Registry said on Friday that it had been the victim of forged documents, but it was its policy to compensate for any mistakes on its register. Christian Candy told the FT on Friday night that there was likely to be a rise in the number of similar cases uncovered during the course of the recession.

King’s Beeches had been owned since 1991 by Glenside Holdings (Bermuda), a vehicle of Sheikh Kahlid Bin Mahfouz. In October 2004, the estate was sold, after several back-to-back sales, to a vehicle of Christian Candy. Unknown to any of the buyers, the fraudsters completed a Land Registry transfer form, using forged signatures, to shift the property from Glenside Holdings to another – entirely innocent – company, Glenside Investments.

As the four men were sent to jail last week, Judge Nicholas Wood said it was a “great shame” to see elderly men committing such a crime. Michael Downer, 71, was jailed for five years; John Clifford Williams, 65, fortwo and a half; John Mervyn Jones, 62, for six; and Malcolm Brown, 69, for four years and nine months.