Saturday, 20 January 2018
Items filtered by date: July 2017

The street where the Da Rocha home is located is extremely narrow. It is called Kakawa, a short stretch behind Union Bank Headquarters at Lagos Island. Even though the home, a large one storey building, the shape of a square, is said to be called Water House, neighbours who spoke with Saturday Tribune last Friday referred to it as “Da Rocha House.”

The house has obviously received a series of facelifts in its long life, but it still retains much of its original 19th-century look. For example, a large room on the ground floor serves both as the garage and the building’s entrance; the windows are unusually many, all of them designed as though they were intended for a church.

The lone car in the garage was covered with tarpaulin, on Friday. At the right side of the entrance was a makeshift bookstore where a young man sold mostly dictionaries. A tailor, an elderly man whom neighbours called “Baba”, occupied the left wing. Both men appeared to work also as domestic staff for the Da Rochas.

“Madam is sleeping,” the tailor said. It was past 9.am, and sensing the need for further explanation, he added, “She has just returned from a journey. You should come back around 12 or 1pm.”

Attempts made to meet her, hours later were unsuccessful. Even as of 2:30 pm, the message from the tailor who had gone up to check, yet again, remained the same: she was resting, and she would not give an appointment.

Water House is at the centre of the historical area that is the Lagos Island. The Third Mainland Bridge is only a few metres away; the popular Marina and Broad Streets are just by the corner, as is the Cathedral Church of Christ, the oldest Anglican Cathedral in Nigeria.

It was here, at Water House, in the 1800s and 1900s that the businessman, Candido Da Rocha, (believed to be the wealthiest Nigerian at the time) lived. It was here that the city’s first water fountain and first borehole were constructed. From here, Candido Da Rocha (Yoruba call him Darosa) operated what was known as Iju Water Works which supplied water to the entire Lagos district. For his work, he was paid directly by the colonial administration, until the water project was altogether acquired by the government.

Massive enterprise

A source who knows the family well, on Monday, made available to Saturday Tribune an interview given to the Catholic Herald by Da Rocha’s grandchild, Professor J.T Da Rocha-Afodu.

In the interview, published in the April 2017 edition of the magazine, the Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the University of Lagos said he and his siblings were, in fact, raised by Da Rocha himself.

The professor said, “My grandfather was Late Chief Candido Joa Da Rocha, Chief Lodifi of Ilesa. He was born in Bahia, Brazil and died in Lagos in 1959. He had his Secondary School education at CMS Grammar School, Lagos. Available records showed that he was never beaten in the school and always came first in his class. His classmates were Late Bishop Oluwole and Late Herbert Macaulay. He was a voracious reader of newspapers, magazines and books, including those written in Portuguese. He had a good stock of books in his library including those on classical English and Portuguese.

“He brought us up after the demise of my father during the 2nd World War in 1940. My father’s boat was torpedoed by the German Submarine U.2 off the Coast of Batvia near Russia and all those in the ship perished. My grandfather took over our upkeep and education of myself and my two brothers and sisters from primary school to the University. Candido Joa Da Rocha was a business man, property and land owner and a financier. He lived in Water House Kakawa Street. The home was commemorated in literature by a novel, The Water House by Antonio Olinto.”

A key strategy used by Da Rocha to boost his revenue appeared to be his readiness to embark on many different projects at a time.

Da Rocha-Afodu said, “Chief Da Rocha collaborated with J.H. Doherty and Sedu Williams to found a Lagos Native Bank, the first in Africa. He owned many houses. He participated in the Lagos Horse Racing at Race Course where he won many trophies. The horses were housed at his stables at Water house, No 12, Kakawa Street, Lagos. His home, Water House, had the first borehole in Lagos. Some of his business interests included a restaurant called The Restaurant da Rocha and Sierra Leone, Deep Sea Fishing Industries Ltd.”

Genealogy of greatness

While it is not often clear how Nigerians with great wealth lived during the colonial period, many accounts have suggested that most of them kept a low profile. This quality appears to have been inherited by the descendants of Da Rocha, who even though they take pride in the family name and the legacies of their father, have nonetheless stayed out of the limelight.

A list provided by Professor Da Rocha-Afodu tells a story of a family which over the years has produced a number of notable names in fields such as medicine, trade, law, education and sports.

For example, Dr Moses Da Rocha, Candido’s brother, was one of the first medical doctors in Nigeria. He studied in Scotland and upon return to Nigeria set up a hospital at 4 Tinubu Street, Lagos.

Another grandchild of Da Rocha’s was Dr. Oladele Da Rocha-Afodu, described by his brother as “a pioneer of the game of Polo in Nigeria.”

“He was the eldest son in the Da Rocha-Afodu family. As a medical practitioner he specialized in Bacteriology and Pathology. He was one of the founders of Polo game in Nigeria and contributed immensely to the development of the game. He once donated a cup to the Lagos Polo Club in memory of late Candido da Rocha,” the professor said.

The professor’s elder sister, Mrs Abimbola Aina Omololu-Mulere, was a lawyer, and according to his brother, the “first Nigerian female graduate in Law to attend the University.” A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin University, she would later found Adrao International Schools in Lagos. She died in 2000.

Of his mother, Candida Adenike Afodu, Candido Da Rocha’s youngest daughter, the professor said, “She was mother of three ladies (Late Mrs. Abimbola Omolulu-Mulere, Mrs. Angela Omolara Branco and Mrs C.K Somolu) and two other men: Late Dr. O. da Rocha-Afodu, and Late Mr. Candido Olu da Rocha-Afodu.

“After the demise (in 1940) of her husband (Mobolaji Abisogun-Afodu, a pharmacist) during the 2nd World war, she came to live at Water House with her six children including Professor J.T. Da Rocha-Afodu. She took care of her father and her children. Her elder sister was Late Mrs. Angelica Folashade Thomas who was an active supporter of the Catholic Church and a Papal Medalist.

“Mrs Afodu was an active member of many women societies at Holy Cross Cathedral. She died at the age of 95 years and her funeral service was held at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos.”

Eternal charm

To many residents around Kakawa Street, Water House has remained something of a communal symbol, a repository of a people’s identity. Neighbours speak fondly of it, and are often quick to direct visitors to it. It is a quiet neighbourhood, and in its simplicity, the house itself appears hidden, dwarfed by the imposing edifices that surround it. Yet, there is a charming aura about it, one which appears to grow as the house ages. It is like a treasure in the shadows: it is hard for a visitor to resist the urge to cast a second look — and to ask questions.

Published in News & Stories

It’s New York’s sickest hospital.

Long before a deranged doctor opened fire inside Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, the place was under an ongoing federal corruption probe, mobsters controlled the construction of its new outpatient center, executives were enjoying million-dollar pay packages and fat bonuses, doctors were allegedly offered per-patient bounties to drum up clinic business, and whistleblowing staffers sounded the alarm about poor patient care but were ignored.

Friday’s bloodbath was the latest black mark on a sprawling medical center that mainly cares for the poor and receives most of its funding from taxpayers in the form of state Medicaid.

Even its hiring of Dr. Henry Bello, the former resident who returned to Bronx-Lebanon on Friday to gun down the people who had once been his colleagues, is being held up at the latest — and most tragic — example of questionable recruitment. Bello, 45, had a criminal conviction for a 2004 sex attack on a 23-year-old.

Bronx-Lebanon has been headed for decades by Miguel Fuentes, who some describe as an imperious CEO who rarely leaves his office at the hospital’s Fulton Avenue campus to visit the main hospital facility on the Grand Concourse. When he does travel, he has a hospital-funded car and driver.

“This isn’t the Mayo Clinic,” one hospital observer bitterly noted.

Fuentes, 67, raised eyebrows with oversize incentive and retirement payouts which he was able to collect while still working. He took home $4.8 million in 2008, including $2.7 million in “other compensation.”

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Bronx-Lebanon Hospital CEO Miguel FuentesGetty Images

In 2015, his total compensation came to $1.7 million, according to the hospital’s latest tax filings.

Fuentes has homes on the Upper East Side and in Southampton. He had a $20,000 shower installed in his office bathroom and later removed it because of the optics of such a perk, a source told The Post. The hospital said he has a modest shower.

Federal investigators have been eyeing the hospital’s leadership in connection with a mob kickback scheme, sources have told The Post.

The probe concerns the construction of Bronx-Lebanon’s new nine-story outpatient treatment center which houses the hospital’s clinics.

Work on the $42 million annex began in 2009 and was mostly financed through the sale of taxpayer-backed state Dormitory Authority bonds. The hospital is paying back the authority over 25 years.

The project was supposed to be finished in 19 months, but it wasn’t completed until 2014.

Construction costs were padded, with cash allegedly ending up in the pockets of the Lucchese crime family and hospital executives, sources told The Post.

A major mob takedown against Lucchese crime family members in May included charges of wire and mail fraud against underboss Steven “Wonder Boy” Crea Sr. and associate Joseph Venice. The charges were linked to a project at “a major New York City hospital,” according to a federal indictment.

The indictment did not name the hospital, but sources have identified it as Bronx-Lebanon. The hospital has disavowed any knowledge of the allegations.

A source told The Post that Sparrow Construction, the general contractor, billed Bronx-Lebanon $26 million for only $21 million worth of work in a scheme carried out through falsified invoices and change orders.

The hospital did not question those change orders, the source said.

Bronx-Lebanon, which got its start in the 1800s, was in such bad financial shape in the 1970s that it nearly declared bankruptcy but was saved by a state bailout.

The Bronx-Lebanon health system now includes a 642-bed hospital, two nursing homes and a mental health facility.

It likes to tout that it has more than 1 million clinic visits a year, but how it attained that number was questionable to at least one former high-ranking staffer.

Dr. John Cosgrove, the former chief of surgery, told The Post that the hospital offered bonus payments to doctors of up to $60 for every patient treated in the clinics.

 

‘I told Fuentes I could not sign off on a surgeon I didn’t even meet and had no idea how safe he was.’

 - Dr. John Cosgrove, former chief of surgery

He said the incentives came from Medicaid payments and were made at a time when Fuentes was pushing to reach, and trumpet, 1 million visits.

 

Cosgrove said the system was distasteful and open to abuse from doctors who might schedule unnecessary visits in order to get more money.

The doctor also questioned the hospital’s vetting of key employees.

Cosgrove objected to a decision by Fuentes to hire Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum in 2008 as head of orthopedic surgery without consulting him first.

“I told Fuentes I could not sign off on a surgeon I didn’t even meet and had no idea how safe he was,” Cosgrove said.

He said Fuentes responded by unilaterally telling the head of the medical staff to change the bylaws and to make orthopedics its own department.
“Just like that,” Cosgrove said.

Kirschenbaum raised alarms among staffers when four patients died in a short period after he arrived.

Sources said complaints were made to both hospital leadership and the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct. The state did not take any disciplinary action against the doctor.

Bronx-Lebanon also took no action against the surgeon. “There was no reason to do any such thing,” said Fred Miller, the hospital’s lawyer.

Kirschenbaum maintained that the patients were all sick before surgery.

Kirschenbaum was brought in to do hip and knee replacements, which are money-making operations. He said he had done 3,000 at the hospital. He received a $314,210 bonus in 2014 and a $180,940 bonus in 2015, according to Bronx-Lebanon’s tax filings. The extra pay came on top of his $851,000 salary.Gunman dead after opening fire inside Bronx hospital

The Post received a copy of an anonymous letter that seven hospital employees, who said they were doctors, nurses and technicians, sent to the state with more recent allegations against Kirschenbaum. The letter discusses patients injured under his care, including one who lost a leg.

Kirschenbaum denied that to The Post and said he wasn’t aware of any recent state investigation of him.

A source told The Post that Kirschenbaum was responsible for hiring Dr. Peter Lesniewski, an orthopedist who was later convicted as being a top “lynchpin” in the $1 billion Long Island Rail Road disability-fraud scheme.

Lesniewski had been a consultant who between 1999 and 2008 “provided fraudulent medical narratives in support of the disability applications of at least 230 LIRR employees,” according to the US Attorney’s office. He was convicted in 2013 of mail fraud, wire fraud and health-care fraud.

He was sentenced in 2014 to eight years in federal prison. He declined, through a prison official, to speak to The Post about his time at Bronx-Lebanon.

Published in News & Stories

Adrien Silva scored an extra-time penalty as Portugal recovered from a goal down to beat Mexico 2-1 in Sunday’s third-place play-off at the Confederations Cup in Moscow.

Luis Neto bundled into his own net to hand Mexico a 54th-minute lead, but Pepe stabbed home a stoppage-time equaliser to force an extra 30 minutes at Spartak Stadium.

Silva then struck his first international goal after a handball inside the box on 104 minutes, while both sides finished with 10 men as Nelson Semedo was dismissed for Portugal before Raul Jimenez saw red for Mexico.

World champions Germany face Copa America holders Chile later in the final in Saint Petersburg.

European champions Portugal were without captain Cristiano Ronaldo after the Real Madrid star was released from the squad to return home to meet his newborn twins.

Portugal and Mexico drew 2-2 in the opening game of the group stage, when Hector Moreno salvaged a last-gasp point for the Gold Cup winners, but were left fighting for a consolation prize in the Russian capital.

Portugal should have gone in front in the drizzling rain on 17 minutes when Andre Silva was upended by 38-year-old Rafael Marquez, with the video assistant referee stepping in to award the spot-kick.

But Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa flung himself superbly to his right to tip Andre Silva’s low spot-kick round the post.

Rui Patricio produced a sharp stop to deny Javier Hernandez, Mexico’s all-time leading scorer, from close range on the half hour, but the Portugal keeper was beaten shortly after the break.

Hernandez’s cross from the byline floated beyond Carlos Vela and Patricio, with Zenit St Petersburg centre-back Neto unwittingly turning the ball home.

Portugal went in pursuit of an equaliser and Gelson Martins — replacing Ronaldo in attack — was denied by an excellent save from Ochoa with just over an hour played.

But Ochoa was beaten in the first minute of injury time as Pepe lunged to get on the end of Ricardo Quaresma’s curling right-wing cross to force extra time.

Silva, on as a substitute, then grabbed the winner just before the end of the first period of extra time, burying a penalty after Miguel Layun handled in the box.

Semedo was then sent off on 106 minutes after picking up a second yellow card, but Mexico’s numerical advantage was swiftly wiped out when Jimenez received his marching orders.

Published in Headliners
Sunday, 02 July 2017 01:59

Killer doctor, Bello, blame colleagues

Nigerian-born Dr Henry Bello, who shot seven people, killed one woman and himself, at a Bronx hospital sent a chilling email to a New York newspaper just two hours before the deadly rampage, it has been gathered.

Bello used an AR-15 assault rifle in the attack on the 16th and 17th floors of the Bronx Lebanon Hospital last Friday around 2.45pm.

It was learnt the 45-year-old sent an email to the New York Daily News blaming two doctors for terminating “my road to a licensure to practice medicine.”

Bello, who was described on the hospital’s website as a family medicine physician, in the email said: “First, I was told it was because I always kept to myself. Then it was because of an altercation with a nurse.”

It emerged Bello was forced to resign over sexual harassment accusations.

However, in the email that was sent at 12.46pm, Bello said he was told his termination stemmed from him threatening a colleague.

He said he then sent an email to that colleague “congratulating her for my termination after she sent out an email to everybody telling them to file complaints against me so I can be terminated for being rude to her.

“I only said in the email, it remains to be seen if my life is meaningless or disposable,” Bello mailed.

Bello then blamed another doctor for ruining his career, adding that the doctor ‘blocked’ him from getting his medical permit despite him pouring $400,000 of his money into the hospital and the family medicine department.

Published in News & Stories

Dr. Henry Michael Bello, the gunman who shot six people at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Centre in New York on Friday, has been identified as a Nigerian.

Some Nigerians in New York, who knew Bello, confirmed to the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday.

And the NYPD has also identified him to be a Nigerian-born doctor.

Bello, 45, shot dead a woman, on the 17th floor and injured at least six others on the 16th floor, before killing himself the New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neil, said.

Five of his victims were seriously injured and “fighting for their lives”,

Bello went into his former workplace wearing a white lab coat with an AR-15 machine gun hidden underneath with the intention of targeting the same individual.

NYPD officials said Bello asked for a specific doctor on the 16th floor but when he was told the doctor was not there, he became angry and started shooting at everyone.

Officials said Bello tried to set himself on fire before committing suicide.

Reports said Bello, who was hired at the hospital in August 2014 as a house physician, had past arrests for sex abuse, turnstile jumping, burglary and public urination.

In September 2004, he was arrested and charged with sex abuse and unlawful imprisonment after a 23-year-old woman told officers he had grabbed her crotch area outside a building on Bleecker Street in Manhattan and tried to penetrate her through her underwear, reports said.

Court records indicated that in September 2004, Bello pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, a misdemeanour, and was sentenced to community service, while the felony sexual abuse charge was dismissed, according to reports.

He was going to be fired by the hospital, after reports of sexual harassments, but instead chose to resign in February 2015 in lieu of termination, reports further said.

Reports from the New York State Education Department said Bello had received a limited permit to practice as an international medical graduate in order to gain experience so he could be licensed.

The permit was issued on July 1, 2014, and expired on July 1, 2016, while he also had a pharmacy technician license that had been issued in California in 2006.

He went to medical school at Ross University on the Caribbean island nation of Dominica and later worked briefly as a pharmacy technician for Metropolitan Hospital Centre in Manhattan in 2012,

A photo provided by authorities showed him dead on the floor of the hospital, wearing a bloodied doctor’s coat.

Law enforcement officials described Bello as transient recently, with at least five different addresses since he left the hospital.

Published in Headliners

Arik Air, Nigeria’s largest carrier said on Friday it would resume daily flight operations between Abuja and Accra, Ghana on July 17.

The airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, disclosed this on Friday in Lagos that the resumption of flights between the two countries was part of efforts to satisfy the company’s customers.

Ilegbodu said flights were suspended on the Abuja-Accra route in March following the closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to pave way for the rehabilitation of the runway.

He said the Abuja-Accra flight would operate daily at 5.30 p.m. (local time) departure out of Abuja with a departure time of 7.40 p.m. (local time) in Accra.

“The re-introduction of the Abuja-Accra operation is part of the management’s strategy to optimise flight schedule and respond to the needs of our valued customers.

“Arik Air has been in the forefront of providing customer-centred services since our inception and we will continue to respond to the needs of our customers,” the CEO said in a statement.

Published in News & Stories
Saturday, 01 July 2017 11:39

Orezi Drops Cooking Pot

Nigeria’s entertainment artiste Orezi aka Mr Raggamofin with his history of lined up hits again drops audio and visual for new song “Cooking Pot”. He comes out addressing social vices like Alcoholism, Rape, and Domestic Violence then makes a stand for Consensual Sex.

The Adasa Cookey directed video was shot in a Lagos location with Orezi paying homage to Afrobeat Legend Fela and also kicking off protest for consensual sex as he makes a stand by using his song to pass his message effectively.

The Afrobeat song produced by TymG and Mixed by Ex-O shows a very conscious and serious side of Orezi as he looks to tackle some menace facing the society and using his art of music as a tool.

Published in Entertainment

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has assured Nigerians that ailing President Muhammadu Buhari is fast recovering from his illness in the United Kingdom (UK).

The APC chief gave the assurance in Abuja while speaking with newsmen at the end of a meeting between the National Working Committee (NWC) and state Governors elected on the party’s platform held at the Imo Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja.

Apparently faulting Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose’s claim that Buhari had been on life support for the past three weeks, Odigie-Oyegun noted: “We are glad to inform you that Buhari is recovering in a very robust manner. We hope he takes it easy and when he comes back, I have no doubt at all that we will have a new and active period of activities.”

Acknowledging that only the President’s doctors abroad could decide when he would be fit to return to the country, he, however, refused to respond to Fayose’s comment, saying he would do that at an appropriate time.

“If I respond, I will be dignifying him. At the appropriate time, people will answer him. At the appropriate level, at the appropriate time. He is in a different world altogether,” Odigie-Oyegun stated, while reiterating the party’s confidence in the Buhari-led administration.

On the parley with the governors, he said it provided an avenue to x-ray the nation, ongoing agitation for its restructuring and inciting statements emanating from different parts of the country.

Odigie-Oyegun stressed that such incisive and divisive statements are not good for the country’s health and have to be stopped, just as he reiterated his earlier position on the restructuring of the country as clearly stated in its manifesto.

He assured that the party’s leadership would do all it could at all times to ensure that the unity of the country was preserved.

Published in Business and Economy

*Couple flee to Nigeria, manhunt launched for them 

A group of Nigerian fraudsters who are facing trial in the United Kingdom for theft of over £10 million will be jailed next week Thursday in Britain.

Two of the six-member gang were said to have fled to Nigeria in order to escape justice. One of them will be jailed in absentia.

Commissioner of Police in charge of Interpol in Nigeria, Mr Shola Subair told Saturday Tribune on Friday in Abuja that his office regularly received many requests from the UK and would need time to confirm if the request for the arrest and extradition of the two fleeing gang members who were said to be husband and wife had been received. He asked our reporter to come on Monday for confirmation.

The gang, according to the Daily Mail of UK stole personal details of members of the British Parliament, judges and police officers from the Civil Service Sports Council (CSSC), to make fraudulent claims over a four-year period.

Simon York, Director of Fraud Investigation Service at UK’s Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), was quoted as saying: ‘We have dismantled an organised criminal attack on the tax credits system. HMRC officers and our counter-fraud checks identified the attack, and our investigators uncovered those behind the fraud, preventing £8 million of false claims being paid to the criminals. A further £2.4 million in tax credits claimed by the fraudsters was paid before we could stop the crime group and prevent further fraud.

‘Tax Credits are paid to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We have to strike a balance between making it easy for people to receive what is due, and having procedures in place to identify and stop fraudulent claims. Our investigation was made more difficult as the criminals had hijacked real identity details to make the fraudulent claims.’

Member lists were ‘stolen to order’ from CSSC and used to place orders for tax credit starter packs used in fraudulent claims over a four year period.

The gang managed to get away with nearly £2,500,000 before staff at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs spotted the ‘extraordinarily high rate’ of claims being made by civil servants.

If the scam had not been stopped it could have reaped more than £10,260,525.

The fraudsters are facing jail for for using the identities of MPs, judges and police officers during a £10million scam.

The crew stole personal details from the Civil Service Sports Council (CSSC), to make fraudulent claims over a four-year period.

Member lists were ‘stolen to order’ from CSSC and used to place orders for tax credit starter packs used in fraudulent claims over a four year period.

The gang managed to get away with nearly £2,500,000 before staff at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs spotted the ‘extraordinarily high rate’ of claims being made by civil servants.

If the scam had not been stopped it could have reaped more than £10,260,525.

CSSC events manager Adedamola Oyebode, 30, stole membership lists and passed them on to her brothers-in-law Oluwatobe Emmanuel Odeyemi, 34, and Oluwagbenga Stephen Odeyemi, 39, who ran the fraud with Kayode Sanni, 38.

Sanni, an illegal immigrant, denied being involved in the fraud and told Old Bailey jurors ‘my conscience is clear’ as he stood trial alone.

But he was convicted of one count of conspiracy to become knowingly concerned in a fraudulent act between 10 March 2009 and 11 June 2013.

Judge Michael Topolski QC remanded him in custody and said: ‘I’m quite satisfied at this stage that there is a significant risk that if he were released on bail he would fail to attend.

‘In my judgement the situation has changed drastically.

‘He chose to contest this matter against what I considered to be overwhelming evidence.

‘His incentive to stay in this country has now diminished.’

Emmanuel Odeyemi, Gumbs and Adedamole Oyebode have already pleaded guilty and will be sentenced with Sanni at the Old Bailey on 6 July.

Prosecutors have dropped charges against Emmanuel’s wife Oluwatosin Oyebode.

Prosecutor Allison Hunter QC said: ‘These defendants went to exceptionally complex and sophisticated lengths in their orchestration of this fraud.

‘They themselves operate under a number of fluid pseudonyms and false identities, operate a multiplicity of email address, have access to a number of mobile phone numbers and have spread the conduct of this fraud over computers and electronic storage devices sufficient to stock a small warehouse.’

Ms Hunter said the investigators began by identifying one of the multiple false tax credit claimants as Chantelle Gumbs, who has admitted her part in the scam.

The source of the stolen identity was traced to the CSSC in Chadwick Street, Westminster, where six staff had password protected access to members’ details.

Adedamole Oyebode, who worked for the CSSC between August 2008 and August 2010, has since admitted supplying lists of members and their details in return for payment.

She also made calls to the tax credit helpline to obtain application packs.

Further investigation revealed the fraudsters had used the details to create false identities, buy online insurance and open false bank accounts to receive the cash.

The profits of the scam were then transferred out into either their own accounts or through Western Union facilities set up by Sanni and Emmanuel Odeyemi.

Jurors were told that two of the gang, Stephen Odeyemi and his wife Oluwatumininu Banjo, 40, have fled to Nigeria and are wanted abroad.

Ms Hunter said: ‘These individuals conspired together to obtain in excess of £10,260,525.33 in fraudulent tax credits using the identities of 10,300 police officers, MPs, members of the judiciary, and civil servants for example, whose personal data and information was stolen from the Civil Service Sports Council.

‘The CSSC provides leisure events and activities together with sporting and fitness facilities to approximately 120,000 Public Sector employees or pensioners, including civil servants, local government employees, the NHS, teachers, police officers, fire fighters and HM Armed Forces personnel.’

Sanni, from Leeds, denied but conspiracy to become knowingly concerned in a fraudulent act – but was convicted of the crime.

Adedamola Oyebode, from Bellingham, southeast London, Stephen Odeyimi from Dagenham, Ess3x and Chantelle Gumbs, will be sentenced alongside him for fraud charges on 6 July at the Old Bailey.

Oluwatumininu Banjo, also from Dagenham, and Emmanuel Odeyemi, from Gravesend, Kent, are believed to be on the run in Nigeria.

Simon York, Director of Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: ‘We have dismantled an organised criminal attack on the tax credits system. HMRC officers and our counter-fraud checks identified the attack, and our investigators uncovered those behind the fraud, preventing £8 million of false claims being paid to the criminals. A further £2.4 million in tax credits claimed by the fraudsters was paid before we could stop the crime group and prevent further fraud.

‘Tax Credits are paid to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We have to strike a balance between making it easy for people to receive what is due, and having procedures in place to identify and stop fraudulent claims. Our investigation was made more difficult as the criminals had hijacked real identity details to make the fraudulent claims.’

Published in Headliners
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