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£400k insurance 'fraud' sparks High Court battle

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An architect accused of fraud worth over £400,000 is facing a legal battle at the High Court with a well-known insurance company.

Royal & SunAlliance is alleging that Peter Vamvakas deceived insurers over the value of works carried out following a fire at the historic Henbury Manor House in Cheshire.

The firm - which is also taking the property owner Maria Veletsos to court over the incident - accuses the architect of supporting a fraudulent insurance claim and is determined to prove that it paid more than 10 times the true value of work on the property.

The court will hear that, although the fire took place in 1995, it was only 'relatively recently' that Veletsos decided to renovate the property and appointed Vamvakas, who was then running a firm called Continental Building Design from Brechin Place in London.

Veletsos, of Rosary Gardens, South Kensington, London, then submitted invoices for payment to the insurers from Farin Construction of £323,475 and from Vamvakas of £149,812.50.

Royal & SunAlliance lawyers will tell the High Court that the insurance firm paid Veletsos the whole amount - £473,287.50 - after it received certificates sent by Vamvakas as to the value of the work done by the construction firm.

But the insurers have since discovered the actual value of the works carried out by the company is just £45,000.

The insurance firm's writ says that Veletsos made a 'fraudulent claim' and has been 'unjustly enriched', having been paid sums in excess of the 'true cost' of the renovation work.

It also brands Vamvakas 'negligent', saying that he 'mis-stated the value of the work and that he deceived them over the costs'.

The company is also taking its own loss adjustor, Crawford & Company, to court for 'negligence' for advising them to pay the invoices.

The writ claims that Crawford & Company ought to have advised Royal & SunAlliance to pay only the real costs of the work carried out by Farin and Vamvakas.

They are seeking unspecified damages from all three defendants, the writ says.

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