Corruption | The small fish

5 06 2010

Considering the Government-sanctioned kick-backs enjoyed by the Political Class, it isn’t any wonder that the smaller fish try their luck at lightening the public purse.  It is of even less wonder that when caught, the smaller fish always pay the piper while the Political Class just claim it was “within the rues” or a “technicality”.

Three jailed for bribes on £1.3m of education quango contracts

By Amy Wilson, Telegraph.  Published: 8:29PM BST 04 Jun 2010

Three people have been jailed for their role in bribery and money laundering involving £1.3m of public money belonging to Britain’s biggest quango.

Paul Kent was sentenced to four and a half years in jail on Friday, after receiving kickbacks of more than £300,000 for corruptly awarding more than £1.3m of contracts on behalf of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in Shropshire.

Between 2004 and 2005, Mr Kent and his wife Sarah embarked on a “lavish lifestyle” of “exuberant spending” the Serious Fraud Office said. That included a £40,000 wedding and honeymoon, Audi sports cars and numerous designer watches from brands such as Cartier and Rolex. In one eight-month period, they spent more than £95,000 when their joint pay for the period was £35,000.

The Serious Fraud Office and West Mercia police launched an investigation in July 2006 after being alerted by a whistlebower to a corrupt contract tendering ring at the LSC in Shropshire. The offences took place between 2003 and 2005 and the defendants were sentenced on Friday at Birmingham Crown Court.

The court heard how in 2003, Paul Kent lied on his CV to secure a senior job at the LSC in Shropshire, which involved soliciting and evaluating tenders. He then encouraged Rebecca Hoyle, an old school friend, to apply for contracts through her business. She went on to pay Kent £29,000 from £94,000 of contracts awarded by the LSC. Hoyle received a one-year suspended sentence on Friday.

Kent also received corrupt payments from Silinder Singh Sidhu, who worked with him at the LSC in 2003. Sidhu later resigned to become a paid consultant to the quango. He made £80,000 of corrupt payments to Kent for £266,000 of work from the LSC. He was sentenced to three years in jail.

Also jailed on Friday was John Stuart Ford, sentenced to two years. Ford, who had previously failed to win contracts from the LSC, was approached by Kent and then was awarded £920,000 worth of work to set up the Telford Learning Centre. He repaid Mr Kent with £190,735 in kickbacks.

Sarah Kent will be sentenced on June 12.

The Learning and Skills Council was the UK’s biggest quango and was set up to fund and plan education for over-16s. It was closed down in April 2010.

Paul Kent pleaded guilty to obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and 11 counts of receiving corrupt payments. Sidhu admitted two counts of corruption and was found guilty of two more after a trial. Ford pleaded guilty to five counts of making corrupt payments. Hoyle pleaded guilty to three counts of corruption. Sarah Kent admitted money laundering.

And what is the difference between the above and the Labour Party helping out friends?  Quite simply, power.  Even with a new government there seems to be a distinct lack of will in investigating that particular money-merry-go-round, which cost far more than the £1.3m embezzled by Paul Kent and co-conspirators.

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One response

5 06 2010
stygian

Time overdue for SFO to investigate Common Purpose for the same scam.

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