Nine former employees of welfare to work provider A4e have appeared in court charged with fraud.
The six women and three men face more than 50 counts between them, including forgery, possessing an article for use in fraud and conspiracy to defraud.
Among the accused is a former contract manager, a former administrator and seven former recruiters who were employed across three A4E offices in South East England.
It is alleged that they forged documentation to support fraudulent claims to the Department for Work and Pensions for reward payments, under the Aspire to Inspire programme, which ended in July 2011. The allegations date from February 2009 and follow an investigation by the Thames Valley Police Economic Crime Unit.
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 nine defendants appeared at Slough Magistrates’ Court on Monday, October 14, where they spoke only to confirm their details. No pleas were entered.
District Judge Tan Ikram granted them each unconditional bail to appear at Reading Crown Court on Monday, October 28.
An A4e spokesperson said: “The investigation by Thames Valley Police relates to alleged incidents which date back to 2009 and were uncovered by A4e’s own internal controls.
“We referred the matter to the DWP, which then referred the allegations to the police.
“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.”
Ines Cano-Uribe, contract manager, aged 37, of Madrid, Spain, was charged with one count of forgery and one count of conspiracy to defraud
Zabar Khalil, administrator, 34, of Dolphin Road, Slough, was charged with five counts of forgery and one count of conspiracy to defraud.
Charles McDonald, recruiter, 43, of Derwent Road, Egham, was charged with seven counts of forgery, one count of possessing an article for use in fraud and two counts of making articles for use in fraud.
Nikki Foster, recruiter, 30, of High Tree Drive, Reading, was charged with 10 counts of forgery.
Julie Grimes, recruiter, 50, of Monks Way, Staines, was charged with 10 counts of forgery.
Aditi Singh, recruiter, 30, of Elmshott Lane, Slough, was charged with three counts of forgery and one count of possession of an article for use in fraud.
Bindiya Dholiwar, recruiter, 27, of Reddington Drive, Slough, was charged with seven counts of forgery.
Dean Lloyd, recruiter, 36, of Rochfords, Coffee Hall, Milton Keynes, was charged with 13 counts of forgery.
Yasmin Ahmad, recruiter, 38, of Colchester Road, Southend-on-Sea, was charged with two counts of forgery.