Trio jailed after assisting £600,000 of benefit fraud from Tower Hamlets Council
PUBLISHED: 17:03 08 April 2016 | UPDATED: 17:03 08 April 2016
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Three fraudsters who helped foreigners illegally claim more than £600,000 in housing benefit from Tower Hamlets Council have been jailed.
Habibur Rahman, 36, of Arbury Road, Mile End, was sentenced to three years and three months imprisonment after he was found guilty of dishonestly producing documentation relating to social security, but not guilty of conspiring to do so.
Accountant Chowdhury Muyeed, 52, of Horns Road, Newbury Park, was sentenced to five and half years imprisonment after he was convicted of conspiring to dishonestly produce documentation while his wife Asma Khanom, 47, also of Horns Road, was jailed for three and a half years on the same conviction and acquittal as East End man Rahman.
The trio ran “bogus” businesses and charities, which would provide fake employment details for Italians of Bangladeshi origin to claim benefits.
The 139 claimants – 28 of which have been convicted – were given documents to prove they were working part time, so they could qualify for housing benefit.
They were able to claim more than £600,000 from Tower Hamlets Council, as well as £578,000 worth of housing benefit from Redbridge Council.
Rahman was responsible for arranging £187,290 in benefits from the two councils while Muyeed and Khanom were responsible arranging £692,927 worth of benefits.
Judge Nigel Peters OC said: “In total, some £1.5m worth of benefits attributable to this investigation have been obtained, so others not traceable to you have been fraudulent.”
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was also duped out of £420,000.
Alexander Taylor-Camara, mitigating for Rahman, said: “It does have a traumatic effect when one is the main breadwinner in the household. They [his family] have been affected significantly.
“He’s a man of good character, who had been here for 14 years, an educated man, and really has lost that and the ability to pursue a proper career.”
Edward McKiernan for Muyeed, who was in the process of becoming a qualified accountant in the UK, said: “That profession will no longer be available to him.”
He added: “He’s lost his good character.”
Dale Beeson for mum-of-three Khanom, who graduated with a masters degree in Bangladesh, said: “There’s limited evidence to suggest Mrs Khanom was running the show. She accepts that she fulfilled certain roles.
“My submission is that it’s not of high culpability, she was performing limited functions under direction. In relation to the children in the family [please] balance the effects of losing both parents.”
In his closing statements, Judge Peters said the three had been convicted of “a most blatant assault” on the UK benefits system.
He said: “If someone makes a false benefits claim, that person who might go to prison even for a first offence creates in effect a greater burden on the system, hurts taxpayers and local authority council tax payers.
“In short, you were responsible for arranging and facilitating a large number of people who otherwise would have had no involvement in this country – or indeed fraud – by claiming false housing benefit.”
He said the fraud would have gone “unabated” if it was not for the arrests made in May 2015.
Khanom waved to the public gallery as she was taken away with the two men.