Former provider staff due in court on host of fraud charges

More than a dozen former employees of welfare to work provider A4e are due to appear in court charged with fraud.

The eight women and five men are due at Reading Crown Court on Monday, February 3, for a plea and case management hearing.

They face allegations including conspiracy to defraud, making a false instrument and supplying articles for use in fraud, dating from February 2009.

It is alleged they forged documentation to support fraudulent claims for reward payments from the Department for Work and Pensions under the Aspire to Inspire programme, which ended in 2011.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson said: “Under the terms of the contract, payments were made when the scheme successfully placed individuals in employment.

“It is alleged that many of the reward payments related either to people who never attended A4e or to clients whom A4e had not successfully placed in employment. The contract was to deliver motivation and training and to assist people to find employment.”

The case comes amid revelations that A4e, one of the UK’s largest welfare to work providers, suffered an £11.5m pre-tax loss last year.

Company accounts also show revenues fell by 14 per cent to £167.1m in the 12 months to last March.

And the company owes £17m to the Co-operative Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland, and has extended the loan until the end of 2015.

Company owner Emma Harrison resigned as chairwoman and also gave up her role as Prime Minister David Cameron’s back-to-work tsar following the fraud allegations.

Ms Harrison, who still owns 85 per cent of the company, has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Account manager Ines Cano-Uribe, aged 37, of Madrid, Spain, and administrator Zahar Khalil, 34, of Dolphin Road, Slough, are charged with 55 counts of making false instruments, one count of conspiracy to cheat and defraud, two counts of making and supplying articles for use in fraud and two counts of possessing and controlling articles for use in fraud.

They are joined by recruiters Charles McDonald, 43, of Derwent Road, Egham, Nikki Foster, of High Tree Drive, Reading and Aditi Sigh, of Elmshott Lane, Slough, both 30, and Julie Grimes, 51, of Monks Way, Staines.

Bindiya Dholiwar, 27, of Reddington Drive, Slough, Dean Lloyd, 37, of Rochfords, Coffee Hall, Milton Keynes, and Yasmin Ahmed, 39, of Colchester Road, of Southend on Sea, are also charged.

They were charged in September, and a further charge against Cano-Uribe and four more defendants was announced in December.

Cano-Uribe was also charged with one count conspiracy to make false instruments. The same charge was put to quality co-ordinator Sarah Hawkins, 31, of Bagshot, Surrey, operations manager Serge Wyett, 39, of Richmond, team leader Matthew Hannigan-Train, 29, of Bristol and recruiter Hayley Wilson, 26, of Springfield in Milton Keynes.

They were also due to appear in court this week.

An A4e spokesperson said: “The alleged incidents all relate to old paper-based contracts which used systems that have since been replaced.

“We are fully co-operating with the police to ensure the investigation can be concluded quickly and are therefore unable to comment further on an ongoing enquiry.”

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