Former Tower Hamlets Councillor Shahed Ali who was imprisoned for housing fraud has been ordered to repay £180,000 or face being returned to prison.
The Confiscation Order requires him to pay £110,000 to Tower Hamlets Council and the Government for money he made as a result of his fraud. He has also been ordered to pay the Council’s legal costs of £70,000.
In 2009, Mr Ali applied for social housing after claiming to be sleeping on a sofa at a relative’s house.
He was subsequently given a one bedroom council flat in Christian Street off Brick Lane.
However, Mr Ali failed to disclose that in fact he owned a private property at Manchester Road, E14, and had also occupied a property at Cannon Street Road, in the Whitechapel ward he represented.
Tower Hamlets Council became suspicious after he applied for single person’s discount on council tax for the flat, while he was also registered to pay council tax at another property.
The Council’s Audit and Counter Fraud Team began an investigation which included a thorough examination of records held by the local authority and those available from external sources. The investigation was specifically led and conducted by Social Housing Fraud specialists with years of experience in investigating these types of serious and complex allegations.
The investigation not only found he also owned a private property in Tower Hamlets, but also two other properties in Frinton on Sea, which included a curry house downstairs.
As a result, the Council charged Mr Ali with fraudulently failing to disclose his ownership of 2 residential properties between 01.10.09 and 26.02.16 contrary to sections 1 and 3 of the Fraud Act 2006.
In September 2016, he pleaded guilty to fraud at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
He was subsequently sentenced to 5 months in prison. He was also disqualified from office as a councillor and barred from standing again for five years.
Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council said:
“This is a quite staggering case of fraud. We are pleased that our detailed investigations have paid off, not just in terms of a prison sentence but also in clawing back public money.
“Benefits and council housing are there to help our most vulnerable residents. Fraudsters should know that we have specialist investigators looking into files every day and we will not hesitate to prosecute.”
Last year the Council recovered 54 social housing properties from people making false claims or illegally sub-letting.
Tower Hamlets is the fasting growing place in the UK. More new homes are built in the east London borough than anywhere in the country and, as a result, its population has increased by 19% over the past 7 years to 304,000.
Currently almost 20,000 people are on the council’s waiting list.