A medical recruitment agent – along with four healthcare assistants and a nurse whom he had persuaded to defraud the NHS – have all been sentenced at Kingston-upon-Hull Crown Court for conspiracy to defraud. Charles Elad, 46, was working as a recruitment officer for ID Medical at the time of the offences. Each of the five workers was convicted of separate fraud conspiracies along with Elad. Elad’s wife, Tanyi Elad, was convicted of a money laundering offence.
The total loss to the NHS was calculated at £72,991.11. Various NHS hospitals in England were targeted, including Scunthorpe General, Royal Blackburn, Shrewsbury and Darlington.
Elad enlisted George Kiberu, Violet Nhende, Abosede Amusan, Ernest Anonyo and Rilindis Bessem to submit large numbers of fraudulent timesheets to the recruitment agency, who were unaware of the fraudulent activity taking place. The agency workers were subsequently paid for the unworked shift. The agency then unknowingly invoiced the various Trusts for these shifts.
Once an agency worker had been paid for these ghost ‘shifts’, Charles Elad would then request they make a payment to him, using his wife Tanyi Esekang Elad’s bank account to hide the transactions.
The initial investigation started at the local level. Upon realising that the problem extended to other areas, the Local Counter Fraud Specialist for Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust referred the case upwards to the national body.
National Health Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) investigators were able to prove in court that Charles Elad had conspired with the other defendants and how he had been the orchestrator of their activity.
The trial began on 23 April this year. Nhende, Kiberu and Anonyo pleaded guilty to their charges, with the remaining defendants entering not guilty pleas and going to trial.
Detail of sentences imposed
Charles Elad received three years’ imprisonment. He had denied five counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and one count of fraud. He was convicted on four counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of fraud, with the remaining conspiracy count left to lie on file.
Abosede Amusan (38) and Rilindis Bessem (39) received 16-month and six-month prison sentences respectively. They each denied one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, but were convicted by the Jury.
Violet Nhende (49), George Kiberu (50) and Ernest Anonyo (40) received prison sentences (all suspended for two years) of eight months, 15 months and eight months respectively. They each admitted one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
Tanyi Esekang Elad (38) denied converting criminal property, but was convicted by the Jury. She received a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Richard Rippin, head of operations at the NHSCFA, said: “The NHSCFA is delighted with the outcome of this investigation. Although this crime was orchestrated by Charles Elad, all seven conspired to deliberately defraud multiple NHS organisations. They had been employed to care for NHS patients, but instead took resources away from patient care for their own personal gain. The result demonstrates the value of local and national NHS bodies working in partnership to tackle fraud. It sends a clear message to anyone under the mistaken impression that NHS funds are an easy target for fraud that they will be caught.”
The sentencing Judge issued a commendation to both the national and local NHS investigators involved. NHSCFA action will now continue under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover the money lost to the NHS.