A 52-YEAR-OLD Portglenone businessman has gone on trial at the Crown Court accused of an international property scam based in Turkey.
The Belfast court was told that as part of the scam Kevin Eugene O’Kane, of Ballynease Road, tricked investors into handing over between £10k and £50k to pay for villas on the Golden Beach development in Bodrum.
However, the court heard that throughout the police investigations O’Kane blamed his business partner in Turkey, and even claimed that “he was a victim himself”.
O’Kane denies a total of 28 fraud charges between August 2005 and April 2007. The first 27 accuse him of obtaining either a money transfer or cash by deception, while the last count involves the use “of a false instrument”.
Prosecuting QC Liam McCollum told the jury of seven men and five women the scam involved 50 properties and 70 people, mainly from Northern Ireland, but some from Scotland.
The offences came to light when investors went to police complaining about properties they had thought, or were told, they had purchased in Turkey.
The lawyer said that when the alleged title deeds of ownership of the villas were examined it emerged that they were useless.
Mr McCollum claimed that O’Kane had falsely represented himself as either the Golden Beach Villas landowner, the builder of the villas, or the developer and that he had a right to sell the properties.
The lawyer added it was for the jury to decide if O’Kane had tricked investors, as part of the scam into parting with their money after they were told that by paying up, they would secure ownership of a brand new holiday villa.
However, the flaw in the scheme was, said Mr McCollum, that O’Kane, “did not own them (the villas), he did not build them, and did not develop them and he had no authority to sell them”.
The lawyer added that O’Kane may have had an “aspiration” of owning the villas and selling them on to investors, but that this was still fraud.
Mr McCollum said the whole scheme, in which O’Kane hoped to make “quite a nice profit”, came undone when the real builder of the Gold Beach Villa development told him “I’m not selling you anything”.
The trial, which is expected to last up to three weeks, continues.