Wolverhampton councillor on trial for fraud will have to wait another month for the verdict

The Wolverhampton councillor accused of fraudulently claiming a £10,000 Covid business grant will have to wait another month to discover his fate.

Councillor Harman Banger has been arrested on suspicion of fraud
Councillor Harman Banger has been arrested on suspicion of fraud

The five day trial at Walsall Magistrates Court of Harman Banger and his wife Neena Kumari, for fraud by false representation, ran over time due to legal arguments.

However, after being transferred to Wolverhampton Crown Court both the prosecution and defence have summed up and all that remains is the judge to give his verdict on December 17.

Prosecutor Daniel Oscroft told the court yesterday Councillor Banger and his wife Neena Kumari were guilty of concocting a false catering business to claim a hardship Covid grant.

Mr Oscroft even mocked the former Wolverhampton Council cabinet member by saying when he got visibly upset in the witness box he was simply displaying "crocodile tears".

Laying out the case for the prosecution details about the premises on Village Road having no electricity, being filthy and boarded up were told to the court.

However, defending Councillor Banger, Balbir Singh took exception to the term "crocodile tears" telling the judge, who will decide the couple's guilt or innocence there was no justification for the phrase.

He said: "They need to show Banger is a liar but all they have come up with is just theories and no evidence.

"When he was giving evidence, he got upset. Those were not crocodile tears. They were plainly heartfelt and wholly consistent with his innocence. Not once was it proven he was untruthful about any issue."

In June last year East Park Labour councillor Banger was forced to step down from his role as Wolverhampton economy cabinet member after the allegations emerged.

West Midlands Police arrested him “on suspicion of fraud offences” and was released pending a full inquiry.

Banger has been administratively suspended by Wolverhampton Council's Labour group pending the outcome of an internal party investigation.

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