The boss of A4e has spoken of his disappointment at four former employers after they admitted ripping off taxpayers while employed by the welfare-to-work provider.
Ex-A4e recruiters Julie Grimes, Aditi Singh, Bindiya Dholiwar and Dean Lloyd, pleaded guilty to more than 30 charges of forgery and fraud when they appeared at Reading Crown Court (pictured) on Monday, February 3.
I am deeply disappointed that a small number of people who formerly worked for A4e…”
The case followed a police investigation into financial rewards claimed for helping the unemployed into work through the European Social Fund (ESF) ‘Aspire to Inspire’ Lone Parent mentoring programme, which ended in July 2011.
It is alleged that they forged documentation to support fraudulent claims for rewards for work with learners who had not found work or did not exist over a period of four years until February last year.
Grimes, 51, of Staines, admitted nine charges of forgery and Lloyd, 37, of Milton Keynes, admitted 13 offences of forgery.
Dholiwar, 27, of Slough, admitted seven counts of forgery while Singh, 30, of Slough, admitted two counts of forgery and one of fraud. No date was set for set for sentencing.
Andrew Dutton, A4e chief executive, said: “I am deeply disappointed that a small number of people who formerly worked for A4e on the Aspire to Inspire contract in the Thames Valley up to 2011 clearly let down the people they were supposed to help, and in turn the taxpayer, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and A4e.
“A4e co-operated fully with the police enquiry, after our own internal investigation first brought these incidents to light.
“Since these events took place, we have augmented our controls and processes to seek to ensure that nothing like this could ever happen again.
“This includes implementing all of the recommendations for improvement made to us by White & Case LLP following their independent review of our core processes.
“Furthermore, rigorous audits undertaken by the DWP and the Skills Funding Agency have concluded that there is no evidence of fraud on any of the contracts that we currently hold with them.
“A4e has, of course, committed to paying back in full the total value of unsubstantiated claims that were made to the Department for Work and Pensions as a result of the activities of these former employees.
“I would also like to say thank you to our 3,000 loyal, hard-working and principled staff who each day deliver public services to the highest standards that help to improve the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable in our society.
“I am intensely proud of what they do and deeply sorry that the allegations have for so long cast a shadow over their good work.”
The trial of eight other ex-A4e defendants, who pleaded not guilty to all charges at Reading Crown Court, including conspiracy to cheat, is expected to start on October 6.
A further defendant, Nikki Foster, aged 30, of Reading, recruiter, was not at court on Monday. She is due to appear
on Tuesday, February 11, over charges including fraud.
All defendants were unconditionally bailed.