Former Circle employee jailed three years for fraud
A man who defrauded his housing association employer and argued the tens of thousands of pounds in his bank were proceeds from prostitution has today been jailed for three years.
Gaffar Kenku, former customer services manager at 63,000-home Circle, falsified documents to enable the theft of money intended to cover the costs of tenants moving out of their homes while they were being refurbished.
Mr Kenku paid acquaintances £1,000 for the use of their bank accounts to launder the money. Mr Kenku was last month found guilty of fraud and today jailed at Blackfriars Crown Court for three years.
Five women who received cash from Mr Kenku in return for the use of their bank account were also sentenced alongside Mr Kenku for more minor offences today.
The court heard that Circle lost £88,000 between 2007 and 2009.
Judge Peter Clarke QC, said: ‘Circle housing association, which has management of some 63,000 properties, found that sums of money were being paid out on false documents. It was not clear to the housing association who was responsible for this.’
Mr Kenku’s crime came to a light after an ‘erstwhile girlfriend’ complained to the police that he was asking her for money he said she owed him, the court heard.
Judge Clarke, sentencing Mr Kenku, said: ‘This [the fraud] was a breach of trust and is something that led several women to commit offences which otherwise they would not have committed.’
During the trial Mr Kenku unsuccessfully tried to argue that payments into his bank account were not the proceeds of fraud, but were income from his work as a prostitute and his legacy from his grandmother in Uganda.
Judge Clarke described the crime as ‘fraud at the local church’ as some of the defendants knew each other from church.
Earlier, Piers Kiss-Wilson, mitigating, provided the court with references from a friend of Mr Kenku and the reverend at his local church and stressed he had never been in custody before. He said Mr Kenku had completed a business course while in custody on the fraud charge and is due to start an IT course on Monday. ‘He is clearly making good use of his time in there.’
Anna Kisakye, 26, was found guilty of converting criminal property worth £11,500. Judge Clarke described her as a ‘recruiting officer’ for Mr Kenku. He handed her a six month suspended prison sentence and ordered her to do 60 hours of community service.
Another defendant, Hussina Raja, 25, was also handed a six month suspended sentence and ordered to do 100 hours of community service. She was also ordered to pay Circle £3,000 in compensation over the next three years.
Ms Raja, who works at the National Theatre and holds a degree in criminology, put £6,500 of payments into her student loan account ‘so that it disappeared,’ the court heard.
Judge Clarke said: ‘I regret having to sentence a person of your ability.’ He described her use of the student loan account as ‘sophisticated’.
Earlier George Gross, mitigating for Ms Raja, said: ‘She made a mistake when she was a young woman by getting involved in something she shouldn’t have got involved in.’
Lamula Nakalawa, 32, was handed a three month suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of transferring criminal property. Joweria Nabantanzi, 39, received a two month suspended sentence and was ordered to do 50 hours of community service after being found guilty of converting criminal property.
Milly Mugalu, 32, was given a two-month suspended prison sentence and 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty to dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit.