An NHS manager jailed for fraud last year has been ordered by the presiding Judge at Snaresbrook Crown Court to pay back £220,431.48 he defrauded from the NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or face an extra three years’ imprisonment. The figure represents all of the NHS manager’s known assets.
Michael Inije (58), of Stainforth Road in Newbury Park, Ilford was employed as the deputy accounts and governance manager at the North East London Commissioning Support Unit which provided services to a number of NHS organisations (NHS Newham CCG being one of those among them).
In May 2017, a colleague of Inije noticed that an invoice for £18,536.95 submitted for payment by a company called DAVII J SERVICES LTD was not clear about the services it had provided to NHS Newham CCG.
The payment was withheld while extra checks were made and, as suspicions grew, a fraud investigation was carried out on behalf of NHS England.
The suspect payment was for claims support given to Continuing Healthcare (CHC) case assessments and reviews, with services allegedly provided in March 2017. The NHS payment system showed that the invoice had been approved by Inije, who would not normally approve payments relating to CHC.
Fraud by Abuse of Position
Investigators found that the system had been set up such that all invoices from DAVII J SERVICES LTD were sent only to Inije for approval.
They then discovered that the company’s sole director was in fact Inije himself, and that between November 2013 and May 2017 he had submitted and approved a further 24 invoices to himself – under the guise of DAVII J SERVICES LTD – worth a total of £382,519.
All of these invoices claimed to relate to work for CHC packages and came out of Newham CCG’s funds.
Inije pleaded guilty to Fraud by Abuse of Position in October last year and was sentenced to three years and nine months’ imprisonment, after which the Proceeds of Crime Act process commenced.
Financial investigators from the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, which leads the fight against NHS fraud at the national level, established that Injie has £220,431.48 in available assets, all of which is earmarked to go back to the defrauded health body.
Recovery and return
Richard Rippin, head of operations at the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA), commented: “The NHSCFA welcomes this successful outcome. It sends a clear message that, where people seek to exploit the NHS for their own personal gain, we will take all action necessary to ensure that defrauded money is recovered and returned to the NHS to be used for what it was originally intended for – the delivery of patient care. Inije’s greed meant that hundreds of thousands of pounds for the care of NHS patients was diverted into his pocket. NHS England oversaw the original fraud investigation and the NHSCFA followed through with its financial investigators to recover the money. This is a good example of collaboration.”
Richeall Whelan, counter fraud specialist lead for NHS England and NHS Improvement in London, added: “NHS England and NHS Improvement are pleased with the outcome and that these funds are being returned to the NHS. All fraud in the NHS is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. It affects the ability of the NHS to improve health outcomes for people in England as resources are wrongfully diverted and cannot be used for their intended purpose.”