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Waste criminal ordered to pay £1.3m for WEEE recycling fraud

A convicted waste criminal has been ordered to pay £1.3 million for defrauding waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) recycling schemes out of millions of pounds in a Proceeds of Crime hearing at Leeds Crown Court yesterday (7 February).

Terence Solomon Dugbo, who is currently serving seven years and six months in prison – the longest custodial sentence handed down for an environmental crime – was ordered to make the payment or face having a further eight years added onto his prison sentence.

The financial confiscation was brought by the Environment Agency (EA) under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) following an investigation into the profit Dugbo made from his crimes, which saw him defraud the electrical waste recycling industry out of £2.2 million.

Waste criminal ordered to pay £1.3m for WEEE recycling fraud
Dugbo was found guilty in 2016 of falsifying paperwork from his Leeds based firm, TLC Recycling LTD, in order to illegitimately claim money through government-backed Producer Compliance Schemes. He claimed to have collected and recycled over 19,500 tonnes of WEEE during 2011, but in reality, his company had never handled the amounts of waste described and he was not entitled to the substantial fees he was paid.

It was revealed in the original court case that, according to paperwork submitted by TLC Recycling, the company claimed to be collecting waste from addresses that didn’t exist and vastly exaggerated the carrying capacities of its vehicles, as well as the weight of waste supposedly dealt with by the company – a moped used by the company was supposed to have carried 413 fridges in one trip while drills collected were marked down as weighing 80 kilogrammes.

Dugbo has never been able to provide credible evidence to show what happened to the proceeds of his fraud. The EA’s financial investigation into Dugbo’s realisable assets suggest he had benefited from his crimes to a value of £1,373,060.09. EA officers worked closely with HMRC to uncover bank accounts in Nigeria, Senegal and Spain.

Dugbo has contested the POCA proceedings since 2016. He also tried to get away without repaying proceeds totalling more than £96,000 from two previous convictions: VAT fraud in 2014 at Leeds Crown Court and exporting hazardous waste to Nigeria in 2011 at Basildon Crown Court. During the current proceedings, the court heard how Dugbo had misled both courts by claiming that his assets had already been used to satisfy both of these earlier courts orders when in fact they had not.

EA waste team leader Dr Paul Salter said: “Mr Dugbo has now been ordered to repay £1.3 million, which is a significant confiscation order on top of the custodial sentence already handed out. It sends out a clear message to others who flout the law that waste crime does not pay.

“Waste crime undermines legitimate businesses and can have significant detrimental impacts on communities and the environment. This hearing demonstrates how seriously we take waste crime and we’ll continue to take action against those operating outside of the law and the regulations. Not only do we use environmental law to prosecute those who abuse the environment but we also use the Proceeds of Crime legislation to ensure that criminals are deprived of the benefits of their illegal activity.”

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