Crime Reduction

20.03.19

Gang of council officers given 17-year total jail sentence after stealing more than £1m from three London authorities

A group of corrupt council workers who invented welfare claims to steal more than £1m from three London councils have been sentenced to prison for a total of 17 years.

The seven benefit assessors worked at Lambeth, Kingston, and Barking and Dagenham councils and created false housing benefit claims over six years.

The council employees all denied fraud but have been convicted by a jury following a three-month trial at Southwark Crown Court and sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Lambeth employee Menelik Cowan was the “driving force of the fraud” and was sentenced to six-and-a-half years imprisonment after diverting nearly £300,000 from his employers over the six years.

The other convicted employees received varying sentences between 18 months and three-and-a-half years in jail, and Cowan’s then-girlfriend and brother were also involved in the fraud.

The gang identified properties, collected details for false claims and created appointments for the fraudsters at the council.

They would then approve the false claims and use their systems to ensure that council letters which would have revealed their fraud were not sent to the properties.

Money was sent into accounts controlled by money launderers who left the country before they could be charged up until the fraud was exposed in 2016.

Ben Reid, a specialist prosecutor in the Specialist Fraud Division at the CPS said: “These council-employed assessors were trusted to look after badly-needed public money meant to help people find somewhere to live.

“Instead they corrupted the systems and sent over £1m to money launderers in the criminal underground.”

During the trial, the council benefit assessors claimed they had no idea that the claims were false and that they were simply processing papers given to them by their managers.

“However, the CPS prosecution showed the jury messages between them and their co-conspirators planning the whole thing,” Reid added.

“They have now been convicted by the jury and these public funds are safely out of their hands.”

The CPS said it had worked closely with investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions’ Serious and Organised Crime Team to bring the prosecution, and said that efforts will now be made to recover the stolen money through proceeds of crime powers.

Image credit - Neil Munns/PA Archive/PA Images

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

13/06/2019A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

A fifth of the country’s public sector workers say they have NEVER received a ‘thank you’ for doing their job as Public Service... more >
New marketplace improves public sector access to latest tech

11/06/2019New marketplace improves public sector access to latest tech

The Government has launched a new marketplace for innovation, providing a smarter way for public sector customers to access the very latest techn... more >
Time to build a truly northern powerhouse

11/06/2019Time to build a truly northern powerhouse

Jack Hunter, a research fellow at think tank IPPR North, discusses how to use the Northern Powerhouse to encourage greater social purpose among b... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough,... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open — and this needs to happen as soon as possible. The fire at Grenfell Tower has been an unimaginable tragedy and it continues to be a hu... more > more last word articles >
A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

13/06/2019A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

A fifth of the country’s public sector workers say they have NEVER received a ‘thank you’ for doing their job as Public Service Day approaches. Almost 5.4 million people ar... more >
New marketplace improves public sector access to latest tech

11/06/2019New marketplace improves public sector access to latest tech

The Government has launched a new marketplace for innovation, providing a smarter way for public sector customers to access the very latest technologies. Spark: The Technology Innovation Mar... more >

the raven's daily blog

New rules to change the future of Social Value

05/06/2019New rules to change the future of Social Value

The government has announced the introduction of new rules to change the future of social value and make the way housing developers stump up the money for infrastructure both simpler and more transparent. These regulatory changes are designed to help achieve its ambition to deliver 300,000 extra homes per year by the mid-2020s.  ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

13/06/2019A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

A fifth of the country’s public sector workers say they have NEVER received a ‘thank you’ for doing their job as Public Service... more >
Time to build a truly northern powerhouse

11/06/2019Time to build a truly northern powerhouse

Jack Hunter, a research fellow at think tank IPPR North, discusses how to use the Northern Powerhouse to encourage greater social purpose among b... more >
Thurrock Council: A council that gets business, does business and means business

11/06/2019Thurrock Council: A council that gets business, does business and means business

Thurrock Council’s chief executive, Lyn Carpenter, discusses an exciting new £1bn regeneration scheme on the River Thames and its imp... more >
Broken electoral system creating 'rotten boroughs'

10/06/2019Broken electoral system creating 'rotten boroughs'

The lack of candidates in recent elections is a worrying trend which impacts on communities and democracy. Willie Sullivan, a senior director at ... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >

public sector focus

View all News