Girish Patel, 71, was yesterday sentenced to five and half years’ imprisonment for his sophisticated and sustained attempt to fraudulently obtain sole possession and control of various businesses and assets which formed part of his family’s business interests. This included
- an attempt to take control of a commercial property in Tooting London which was owned by the family and
- having forged his mother’s will, using that in a High Court claim to prove the will to claim the benefit of her estate, which was valued at 50 million USD.
- Perverting the course of justice and perjury.
These attempts were ultimately foiled by other members of his family, who were forced to engage in litigation across the world to prevent him acquiring the assets in question.
Yesterday’s sentence marks the culmination of almost a decade’s efforts by the family to stop Girish Patel’s criminal actions and bring him to justice.
Summary of the Case
The Patel family held a network of business interests around the world. The businesses themselves were jointly owned and the individual family member residing in the country or region where an aspect of the business was based would have responsibility for the day-to-day management of that aspect of the business. Under this arrangement, Girish Patel was responsible for the management of a commercial property which was owned by the family in Tooting. The sentencing judge, His Honour Judge Mark Dight CBE, found that the property had an estimated value of £10 million at the time in question and that, following a subsequent redevelopment, it is currently valued at approximately £44 million.
In 2014, Girish attempted to take sole control of this property, first by indicating to Companies House that his brother, who was a director of the family company which owned the property, had resigned from his position as a director. He then forged documents which indicated that his brother had resigned and subsequently sought to use these forged documents to defend his position when his brother brought a claim in the High Court to assert that the resignation was not genuine.
His next step wrongly to retain control at the expense of his family was to deny the existence of the shareholding by which other members of the family held their interest in the property. In order to do so, he manually altered (forged) the register of members of the family company which held the property, physically removing the pages which recorded the shareholding of those family members.
Ultimately, the other members of the family were forced to bring civil claims in the High Court of England and Wales to stop Girish’s attempt to wrest control of a valuable family assets by means of forgery and fraud. The sentencing judge found that this was a sustained fraud which had a serious detrimental effect on his family and sentenced him to 4 years and 6 months imprisonment in relation to this offence.
When this attempt failed, Girish then attempted an even more audacious fraud, seeking to take control of his deceased mother’s estate by means of forging a ‘new’ will of his mother. Mrs PD Patel died in 2011, having left her entire estate to her son Yashwant via a will she had made in 1986. In 2015, following the failure of his attempt to fraudulently take control of the commercial property in Tooting, Girish produced an alternative will, signed by his mother, which he claimed she made in 2005 and which purported to make him the sole beneficiary of her estate. He sought to contest the bona fides of the original will by making a claim for probate in the High Court, on the basis of this “new will”.
The matter proceeded to trial in the High Court and involved expert document examiners, who gave evidence that the will was a forgery and not a genuine document. Nonetheless, Girish and three witnesses gave evidence that it was a genuine document and that that they had been witnesses to its creation. Girish’s claim was ultimately defeated and the will he sought to rely on was found to be a forgery by him. Yesterday, the sentencing judge found that Girish Patel had forged this will with the intention of forcing the transfer of his mother’s estate, valued at approximately 50 million USD, to himself, rather than his brother, and that, in order to prevent this from happening, his family had been forced to defend the claim that Girish had brought to the bitter end. He was sentenced to 3 years and 9 months imprisonment for this offence, to be served concurrently with the sentence for the earlier fraud.
In addition to these frauds and forgeries, Girish was also sentenced for perverting the course of justice by bringing the High Court claim on the basis of a will which he knew to be forged and for perjury, as a result of false evidence he gave during the course of those proceedings. He received sentences of 12 months and 6 months imprisonment respectively for these two offences. Those periods of imprisonment will be served concurrently to each other but consecutively to the sentences for the other offences, meaning he received a total sentence of imprisonment of five and a half years.
In addition to the sentence of five and half years imprisonment, HH Judge Dight CBE also disqualified the defendant from being a company director for a period of 10 years.
This sentence brings to an end an extremely difficult and protracted effort, on the part of Girish Patel’s family, to prevent him from reaping the benefits of his criminal conduct and to bring him to justice.
Edmonds Marshall McMahon statement
Andrew Marshall, Director at Edmonds Marshall McMahon comments: “Mr Prashant Patel came to Edmonds Marshall McMahon due to our expertise in conducting private prosecutions. This has been a difficult and hard-fought prosecution interlinked with civil cases around the world. The defendant’s convictions and sentence demonstrates EMM’s ability to bring the most complex of cases to a successful conclusion for victims of wrongdoing.
Prashant Patel statement
“The betrayal of our family by my uncle, Girish Patel in fraudulently attempting to take control and possession of family assets, including property in London, and around the world, was devastating.. Girish ensnared our family in a web of protracted, world-wide litigation, to try and prevent and undo the effects of his wrongdoing. The most difficult and painful part of this involved Girish presenting a forged will to the High Court, in an attempt to take control of our grandmother/his mother’s estate. The emotional impact of this on the family was devastating.
It provides some consolation that Girish Patel has finally been brought to Justice even despite his persistently trying to delay the course of these proceedings.
I would like to thank my boutique, specialist legal team at Edmonds Marshall McMahon, Andrew Marshall and Nikos Keim as well as Gideon Cammerman KC at 187 Chambers and Gillian Jones KC and Max Baines at Red Lion Chambers for their expertise and tireless work. I would also like to thank the Court and the UK criminal justice system for ensuring this man has finally been brought to justice. We are now very much looking forward to closing this chapter of our life and look positively to the future”.
Andrew Marshall, Partner
Nikos Keim, Senior Associate