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Council in Right To Buy media probe prosecutes fraud-case tenant

A man has been prosecuted for fraudulently attempting to purchase a Right To Buy council property from one of the local authorities at the centre of media attention over what some fear to be widespread fraud and possible money laundering.

Radio 4’s File On Four programme and trade publication Inside Housing have discovered that 721 out of 4,538 Right To Buy sales conducted by 10 authorities were to tenants said to be on housing benefit - and thus being unlikely to be able to afford such a purchase.

One of the 10 councils whose figures were put under the spotlight was Greenwich in south east London - and now the authority has prosecuted a man under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act.

He failed to notify the Royal Borough of Greenwich that he had vacated his council property, and had allowed other people to reside there.

The man was given a six months’ prison sentence suspended for 12 months because of his failure to notify the authority that he had vacated his council property. He was also prosecuted under the Fraud Act for having submitted two fraudulent Right to Buy applications in an attempt to purchase the property from the council.

In 2011 he obtained the one bedroom property in Charlton. He submitted Right to Buy applications to purchase the property from the council in March and September 2015.

Checks conducted by the council identified that the man had financial links to a property in Swanley, Kent, and a criminal investigation began. 

In October 2015 he was interviewed under caution where he accepted that he had not been a resident in Greenwich since March 2015 and had allowed another person to live at the council property. 

He was sentenced by Woolwich Crown Court, and ordered to work 100 hours unpaid in the community, given a 10-week curfew and ordered to pay Greenwich’s legal costs of £2,000.

Prior to sentencing he also agreed to pay £3,000 to the Royal Borough for its financial losses incurred as a result of the council having to provide emergency accommodation to those in genuine need of a one-bedroom property for the period that he deprived the authority of the use of the property in Charlton.

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