A man convicted of committing waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) evidence fraud worth up to £2.2 million was handed a seven year and six month jail sentence at Leeds Crown Court on Friday (July 15).
Terence Solomon Dugbo, 45, of High Ash Avenue, Leeds, was sentenced following an Environment Agency investigation and a seven-week trial over alleged crimes dating back to 2011. The Agency claims that the sentence is the largest recorded for an environmental crime in the UK.
According to the Agency, Mr Dugbo had falsified paperwork to illegitimately claim that his Leeds-based firm TLC Recycling Ltd – which has since been placed into liquidation – had collected and recycled more than 19,500 tonnes of household WEEE during 2011. But, the Agency claimed, the company had never handled the amounts of waste described.
During the trial, Sailesh Mehta and Howard McCann, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that the defendant received the money through evidence payments from Producer Compliance Schemes.
The Agency added that documents seized from the company suggested that it had claimed money for collections from streets and properties that did not exist.
It also claimed that vehicles used to transfer waste were recorded as being in Northern Ireland, England, and Scotland on the same day. Some vehicles did not exist at all, the Agency said, and some documents showed vast weights of waste being collected by vehicles that could not carry such loads. Weights of individual items were also exaggerated.
Mr Dugbo has previous convictions for illegally exporting WEEE to Nigeria, following a long-running trial which concluded in early 2013 (see letsrecycle.com story).
He had denied the charges in the latest case – conspiracy to defraud, acting as a company director while disqualified, and breaching an environmental permitting condition – but he was found guilty on all counts.
Judge Clarke, who presided over the case disqualified Mr Dugbo from acting as a company director for 12 years, stating that he was “a risk to the public”, and he initiated the Environment Agency’s request to begin Proceeds of Crime against Dugbo for £2.2million.
Dr Paul Salter, senior environmental crime officer at the Environment Agency, said after the hearing: “Terry Dugbo’s illegal activities defrauded legitimate recycling schemes out of significant amounts of money. He masterminded and fabricated a flow of false paperwork that claimed his business was collecting and recycling vast amounts of waste electrical goods when in fact he wasn’t.
“This prosecution has been the result of a significant, co-ordinated investigation involving operational, enforcement and legal officers in the Environment Agency, and with help from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
“The length of the sentence handed out by the court today demonstrates the seriousness of Dugbo’s activities. Hopefully this case and the record sentence will act as a warning to others who commit waste crime that they will be pursued and, if convicted, could face serious punishment.”
Judge Clarke said: “What I found really amazing was the amount and complexity of the false paperwork. The scale of the investigation here was enormous. It took Dr Salter and his team nearly a year to go through the documents they seized in the search of the premises.”