A benefits fraudster was released from prison after paying a Suffolk council £23,000.
Kai Jensen, of Whatfield Hall, near Hadleigh, was sent to jail after failing to pay the cash owed to Babergh District Council in a confiscation order.
Jensen, 77, had repeatedly promised to pay but the courts finally lost patience with him and activated a suspended jail term on 11th August.
Three days later, after contacting family members from behind bars, Jensen paid up in full.
Jensen was originally sentenced in 2014 by Ipswich Crown Court to 232 days in prison (suspended) after hearing that he spent thousands of pounds he cheated from fraudulent benefits claims. He received housing and council tax benefits of nearly £40,000 after failing to reveal he and his wife were on pensions from Denmark and that he held several company directorships.
He denied three charges of fraud but was found guilty after an investigation led by Ipswich Borough Council’s anti-fraud team, acting on behalf of partner councils in Suffolk.
After Jensen paid his debt to Babergh council this month, fraud investigators were praised for their “perseverance”.
Councillor Peter Patrick, who is Cabinet member for Organisational Delivery/Finance, said: “We have a zero tolerance policy towards fraud in Babergh and we are indebted to the Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team for their dogged perseverance in recovering this money. People who cheat councils are cheating their neighbours and other residents out of hard-earned taxes. Wherever possible we will go after these people and recover our money.”
ACE sits within the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) and works with a number of law enforcement agencies to recover proceeds of crime from offenders.
In this current financial year (2017-18) the ACE team has helped to recover nearly £250,000 from non-police agency cases across the Eastern Region.
ACE’s Financial Investigation Manager, Nick Bentley, said: “When a defendant has a confiscation order made against them the Judge will attach a period of imprisonment to be served if the individual fails to pay, in this case the magistrates were left with little option but to activate the default term of 232 days imprisonment. Any defendant in this position would still owe the money when released with added interest, so it is not unsurprising that Kai Jensen made arrangements after three days in prison to pay the full amount to gain his release.”
Mr Bentley added: “This case demonstrates the benefits of excellent joint working between all agencies involved and that the criminal’s ill-gotten gains will be pursued using the full weight of the Proceeds of Crime Act legislation.”
Councillor Martin Cook is Ipswich Borough Council’s Resources portfolio-holder. He said: “Ipswich led the original investigation that led to Jensen’s conviction and we are pleased that the money has now been recovered. This case shows how the multi-agency approach is working and we want to reiterate that we will pursue benefits cheats whenever and wherever we can.”
Anyone with information about criminal activity including proceeds of crime is urged to pass on intelligence to police via 101, or to contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.