Express & Star

Sandwell Council employee tried claiming fake business grant from his own authority

A Sandwell Council employee tried to fraudulently claim a Covid business rate support from the authority he worked for.

Naseem Khan was an employee at Sandwell Council when he tried to defraud the authority

Naseem Khan, an anti-social behaviour officer in the council's housing department, was found guilty of fraud by false representation at Walsall Magistrates' Court in December last year, and returned to court for sentencing last month.

The 45-year-old, of Cordley Street, West Bromwich, tried to claim the money from Sandwell Council in June 2020, at the height of the pandemic for a business based in West Bromwich High Street.

Khan, who was understood to be considering applying to be Labour councillor before his offence came to light, was sacked from his role at the authority in April 2022. It's also understood that Labour will not accept his application.

Khan was given a 12-month community order at Walsall Magistrates' Court on January 19, as part of which he must carry out 50 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,500 and a £95 surcharge.

A spokesperson from Sandwell Council said: "This individual took advantage at a time of national crisis with the intention to defraud the Government's grant scheme administered by local councils.

"Over the course of the pandemic, Sandwell Council paid more than 11,000 business grants totalling over £84m to Sandwell businesses. The extra checks put in place have meant we've been able to make sure the money intended to help businesses was only paid to those eligible – stopping more than £600,000 worth of potentially fraudulent claims.

"It is testament to the vigilance of our officers and our robust processes that the grant wasn't paid on this occasion. We had the right systems in place to prevent fraudsters getting their hands on taxpayers' money earmarked to help businesses through a very difficult time.

"Not only has Mr Khan been given a community order, he has also lost his job as a result of this fraudulent application.”