Detectives are pursuing inquiries that the death of a solicitor is linked to what is alleged to be Britain’s largest mortgage fraud.
Peter Maine, 56, was under investigation for the part he is believed to have played in a £170 million sale and rent back scheme mortgage fraud that led to more than 2,000 home owners losing their properties in the North East.
His body was found in a park by a cyclist. Maine had been stabbed, but police are awaiting results of a post-mortem before launching a murder inquiry.
Maine, a father of two, was found near a path by the Maiden Castle sports centre in Durham. He was believed to be on a jog.
In April, the Solicitors Regulation Authority that he faced prosecution for his involvement in ‘dubious’ mortgage fraud transactions.
The SRA accused him of acting as solicitor “in relation to transactions relating to a company which he ought to have known were dubious.”
The SRA has made a statement closing the inquiry into his criminal activity, explaining further inquiries are unlikely to be in the public interest.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Chapman, of Durham police, who is leading the investigation, said: “Maine’s death remains suspicious but we have to keep an open mind as to how he came by his injuries.
“We have established a major incident room at police headquarters and we are committing the same resources we would for any homicide investigation.”
The mortgage fraud allegations related to the activities of two firms – North East Property Buyers and Newcastle Home Loans, of Gateshead.
DCI Chapman confirmed the fraud inquiry was ongoing and would continue despite Maine’s death.
A major incident team of 30 officers are piecing together the circumstances surrounding the death, making door-to-door inquiries and quizzing other sports centre users.