NRI Kanubhai Patel
ordered to pay back 1.6 million
pounds to the British government
London, June 02, 2005
Patel 53, who built
up a multimillion-pound property empire with the proceeds
of a complex housing benefit fraud has been ordered
to repay a record £1.6 million to the state.
Mr Patel, who came to live in England from India
in the 1970s, was convicted for fraud in October 2003
along with three accomplices, but it has taken investigators
eighteen months to unravel his financial empire and
to finalise the confiscation order, which was made
at Kingston Crown Court last week.
NRI Patels fraudulent activities began in 1992
when he claimed income support, housing benefit and
council tax benefit on the grounds that he had separated
from his wife and was the sole carer of his children.
He falsely declared his only source of income to be
child benefit and then set out to become a property
Between 1992 and 2002, while in receipt of benefit,
Mr Patel began to accumulate his portfolio of properties
in South London. He obtained money to buy them by
making fraudulent mortgage applications on which he
claimed to be manager of the Shree Convenience Store
in Balham, where he was known to be working while
still claiming benefit.
Patel, accumulated a portfolio of 15 properties in
South London between 1992 and 2002, which is now worth
nearly £4 million. His assets include a spectacular
villa in Streatham with its own swimming pool, which
has a market value of just under £1 million.
Although the cash value of the income support and
housing benefit that Mr Patel fraudulently claimed
came to £69,000, a court has ordered that the
benefit to him of his crime, once increasing property
prices have been taken into account, was closer to
Once mortgages on the properties have been repaid,
the value is £1.6 million. Mr Patel has now
been given 12 months to hand over this money to the
asset recovery unit at the Department for Work and
He has already been given a two-year jail sentence
for the fraud. If he fails to repay the money he could
face a further six years in jail and will still be
required to repay the money, this time with interest.
It is the biggest compensation order to be secured
by the DWP, which usually manages to recover around
£2 million a year from benefit fraudsters. James
Plaskitt, the Anti-Fraud Minister at the DWP, said:
This cheats £69,000 fraud cost him
over £1.6 million thats 25 times
what he stole from taxpayers pockets. It sends
a clear message that fraud doesnt pay.
Steve Cox, the investigator on the case, said that
Mr Patel was able to meet his mortgage payments by
placing tenants in his properties who were themselves
claiming housing benefit.
Effectively all his income came from the taxpayer,
including the housing benefit that he fraudulently
claimed and the housing benefit paid legitimately
to his tenants, who then paid it to him via an account
in his wifes name, Mr Cox said.
Mr Patel was finally caught after the Counter Fraud
Investigation Service in south Surrey received a tip-off.
He attempted to evade arrest in June 2003 by hiding
under the bed in one of his houses in Croydon, but
was arrested after police spotted his feet sticking