Six men sentenced to 17 years for multi-million pound fraud

14/09/2012

Six men who siphoned millions of pounds from a charity were today imprisoned for a total of 17 years and three months at Birmingham Crown Court for their part in the fraud

Mohammed Hassan Arwo, Abdi Musa Abdi, Kaise Ismail, Abdiwahab Said, Mustafe Hassan Arwo, and Hamud Yassin all held various positions in Astonbrook Housing Association, which was registered as a charity in 2002 in order to supply accommodation and services to asylum seekers, and was funded to do so by contracts with the Home office and Birmingham City Council under their 'Supporting People' programme.

Wendy Bounds, Complex Casework Lawyer from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said:

"Between 2004 and 2008, Birmingham City Council paid £6 million to Astonbrook and in early 2006, Mohammed Arwo, who had been declared bankrupt in 2006, negotiated a contract with the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) to supply services on a regional basis to asylum seekers. Between 2006 and 2007, Astonbrook received payments of £1.3 million per month, a total of £15 million.

"The defendants then went on to exploit the lack of fiscal audit or fiscal control by the UKBA and the city council, and therefore, they were able to write cheques to themselves and to companies controlled by them. They covered up their fraud by creating accounting documents which looked, on superficial examination, as legitimate.

"The money which they stole either went into their personal bank accounts, or was used to purchase properties or went abroad.

"In early 2007 the city council conducted a review of the services provided by Astonbrook which resulted in the police investigation.

"This investigation was complex because of the diffuse nature and extent of the fraud and was further complicated by evidence that the UKBA commercial manager, Andrew Waldron, who acted as the UKBA liaison in 2007, had previous conviction for frauds which he had failed to declare to his employers.

"He was subsequently prosecuted and convicted for offences of dishonesty in relation to his CV and for offences committed whilst on bail of fraud by misrepresentation and was sentenced to a total of seven years imprisonment.

"I would like to thank officers from West Midlands Police and in particular pay tribute to Detective Constable Mark Simmons who worked tirelessly on this long and complex investigation. Sadly, DC Simmons did not live to see his hard work come to a successful conclusion."

Mohammed Hassan Arwo was sentenced to four and a half years

Abdi Musa Abdi was sentenced to four and a half years

Kaise Ismail was sentenced to two and a half years

Abdiwahab Said was sentenced to 15 months

Mustafe Hassan Arwo was sentenced to two years

Hamud Yassin was sentenced to two and a half years