A4e chief executive Andrew Dutton has revealed that none of the staff who ripped off a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) welfare-to-work scheme were still working for him.
Ines Cano-Uribe, aged 38, of Madrid, Matthew Hannigan-Train, 30, of Bristol, and Hayley Wilson, 27, of Milton Keynes, were found guilty of conspiring to make false instruments on the Inspire to Aspire contract to cover up fraudulent claims.
Cano-Uribe was also found guilty, with Zabar Khalil, 35, of Slough, of a separate count of forgery. A further six defendants had already pleaded guilty before the 13-week Reading Crown Court trial, which ended on January 14, to 48 counts of forgery and related conspiracy offences.
They were Dean Lloyd, 38, of Milton Keynes — 13 counts of forgery, Julie Grimes, 52, of Laleham, Surrey — nine counts of forgery; Aditi Singh, 31, of Slough — three counts of fraud and forgery, Bindiya Dholiwar, 28, of Slough — seven counts of forgery, Nikki Foster, 31, of Wokingham – eight counts of fraud and one conspiracy, and Charles McDonald, 44, of Egham — six counts of fraud and one of conspiracy.
Andrew Dutton, A4e Group chief executive, said: “We are obviously very disappointed and sorry a number of people who worked on this contract behaved so dishonestly.” He added: “None of the people who were convicted remain in our organisation.”
Between 2008 and 2011, Wilson, Lloyd, Grimes, Singh, Dholiwar, Foster and McDonald worked as A4e recruiters in the Thames Valley, together with account manager Cano-Uribe, deputy business manager Hannigan-Train and contract administrator Khalil. Thames Valley Police said the recruiters claimed they had found work for people, many of whom either did not exist or had not found work, to fraudulently receive bonuses. They then forged documentation to support false claims. When the DWP asked to see files in March 2011, Cano-Uribe, Hannigan-Train and Wilson were involved in making the files appear to be in order, including fraudulent ones.
It came to light when documentation completed, and purporting to be signed by candidates and employers to show successful job outcomes, was found to have been produced and signed by staff themselves.
Mr Dutton said A4e would pay back all the money that had been fraudulently claimed, adding that DWP and Skills Funding Agency audits found no evidence of fraud in current A4e contracts.
The defendants are due to be sentenced on March 30 at Reading Crown Court.
Sarah Hawkins, 32, of Bagshot, Serge Wyett, of Richmond, and Yasmin Ahmed, both 40, of Southend on Sea, faced similar charges, but were cleared of all counts.