The Serious Fraud Office has raided 17 premises as part of its investigation into an alleged fraud involving commercial property

According to the Serious Fraud Office, 17 properties were searched on 21 June, including four solicitors, three mortgage brokers and an accountancy firm. The remainder were residential premises. The properties were located in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leicestershire and Hertfordshire.

As part of the raid, a man was arrested, interviewed at Edmonton police station in north London and released without charge. The investigation is a joint SFO/West Midlands Police operation with assistance from the City of London Police and from the police forces of Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire and Leicestershire.

The investigation was sparked by a suspected mortgage fraud arising from a complaint made by the Cheshire Building Society, which involves a valuer at Dunlop Haywards.

The SFO statement comes as Erinaceous, Dunlop Haywards' parent, has put out a trading statement ahead of its half-year interim results tomorrow.

Erinaceous has rejigged its operational structure. Lucy Cummings will become the chief operating officer with responsibility for overseeing the operations and development of the group. Nigel Davis becomes the group's commercial director, focusing on business development and acquisition opportunities.

Erinaceous says the internal investigation into the suspected fraud of one Dunlop Haywards employee is now ‘substantially complete'. It adds that the company is not able to comment in detail ‘in respect of this matter, which remains the subject of a criminal investigation'.