Jailed managers ordered to pay back £560,000 to NHS in wake of procurement fraud

Three managers (one NHS employee and two contractors) who were imprisoned last year for fraud and are still behind bars have been ordered by the courts to pay back over £560,000 to the NHS. This follows a financial investigation by the NHS Counter Fraud Service (NHS CFS) Wales under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Mark Evill (48, of Shirenewton, Chepstow), Robert Howells (66, of Sudbury, Chepstow) and Michael Cope (44, of Garden City, Merthyr Tydfil) were convicted of fraud and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment between them in November last year after a fraud investigation, also led by NHS CFS Wales. It proved that Evill, who was contracted as a project manager by the Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB), awarded work to contractor “George Morgan Ltd”, which he himself owned.

Evill also made payments to Howells and Cope with the money he earned to ‘buy’ their co-operation. The trio hit the headlines partly because they used fake names that were later revealed to be copying the real names of members of the rock band U2. Evill, Howells and Cope defrauded the PTHB out of £822,236.22.

Swansea Crown Court heard that the three must pay back the combined amount of £563,496.95 within their allotted amount of time or face extra time being added to their prison sentences.

The figure could grow. NHS CFS Wales investigators will also seek to recover any future assets or money that becomes available to the fraudsters to go back into the NHS. They will periodically revisit their wealth to see if any further money can be recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Cheryl Hill, deputy operational fraud manager at NHS CFS Wales, said: “This result sends out a clear message that those found to have defrauded the NHS will not only face prosecution, but that the money stolen will be pursued to ensure that it goes back where it belongs. Evill, Howells and Cope were greedy in their bid to re-direct NHS funds into their own pockets, so it’s good to see the money being recovered so that it can be used for what it was intended for – patient care.”

Sue Frith, CEO of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, added: “I commend the NHS Counter Fraud Service Wales for its work in the original fraud investigation and this very successful recovery. The court order enables the recovery of over half a million pounds for the NHS. Our organisations continue to work closely together to tackle fraud against the NHS. Procurement fraud is one of our priority action areas this year.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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