Four rail firm employees who paid or received bribes of at least £140,000 to rig a lucrative contract have been sentenced to up to two years each in prison.
The case followed an investigation by British Transport Police (BTP) into corruption, fraud and money laundering that occurred during the upgrade to Farringdon Station in 2010.
Guilty: Innocent Obiekwe
Innocent Obiekwe, a senior manager at Costain and Laing O’Rourke (CoLOR) who was responsible for ensuring the health and safety procedures at the project, was at the heart of the corruption.
During 2010, Alandale Rail, through John Zayya and Kevin McKee, made corrupt payments to Obiekwe in order to secure a lucrative contract and additional work to supply safety critical staff as part of the Farringdon project.
Information Obiekwe provided to Alandale Rail Ltd ensured that the company could undercut bids made by competitors. The initial value of the contract was £2.1m but eventually rose to £5.2m.
After Alandale Rail was appointed, Obiekwe and the other defendants were part of a scheme to defraud CoLOR by claiming for ‘ghost workers’. Claims were fraudulently made to CoLOR for false work undertaken by safety critical staff working for Alandale Rail Ltd. Payments were claimed for workers who never attended the site or carried out any work and invoices and timesheets were falsified to disguise the bogus claims.
BTP started investigating corruption surrounding Alandale Rail Ltd in February 2011 when a whistleblower at the organisation contacted the mayor’s office at City Hall. The fraud team at Transport for London then alerted BTP.
It identified payments in excess of £140,000 paid to Obiekwe along with other gifts and favours.
Detective Constable Justin Yorke of BTP said: ‘The corruption shown by all defendants was complex, prolonged and meticulously planned. However, they did not plan on a whistle-blower reporting their corruption to the Mayor of London’s office.
‘The behaviour of Obiekwe and his fellow defendants was scandalous and undermines the legitimate tendering process companies undertake every day. I am pleased with today’s sentences and I hope this sends a very clear message to any groups who may be considering similar actions.’
The sentence for each defendant was:
1. Alandale Rail Ltd (now Alandale Track and Civils Ltd) was fined £25,000.
2. Innocent Obiekwe (42) of Edgware, was sentenced to two years in prison and disqualified from being a director for eight years.
3. John Zayya (51) of Catford, was sentenced to two years in prison and disqualified for eight years from being a director.
4. William Waring (56) of Ashford Kent, was sentenced to two years on two counts to run concurrently. The first count was money laundering the second count was corruption. He has also been disqualified from being a director for eight years.
5. Kevin McKee (57) of Maidenhead was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment on five counts to run concurrent and disqualified for eight years from being a director.