Kenyan fined Sh40m by UK for false welfare claims

A Kenyan woman serving a two year jail term in Britain for making false welfare claims worth over Sh26 million over a six year period was Saturday ordered to repay Sh40 million.

From Saturday, Ms Gladys Popoola is to repay a total of Sh39,530,270 (£304,079), including Sh24,180,000(£186,000) compensation to Westminster City Council and HMRC, within six months, UK newspaper Daily Mail reported.

The move by British courts also saw three residential properties bought by Ms Popoola in key UK upmarket areas seized to foot the huge court bill.

The Kenyan-born woman who resides with her husband Mr John Ndirangu in the UK at North West London, is currently serving a two year jail term since March 2012 after admitting 13 counts of benefit fraud and three other counts of fraud relating to obtaining a national insurance number.

Popoola, raked in so much from the ‘full range’ of benefits she claimed, that she bought three homes in London and one in her native Kenya.

The court found that Popoola had three jobs and a husband ‘to boot’ but proceeded to demand for welfare support despite the fact that she had three jobs and a working husband – building up a property portfolio worth Sh65,000,000(£0.5m).

The civil suit followed last year’s criminal case where the 47year old UK citizen admitted 16 counts relating to fraud at Southwark Crown Court and was jailed for 24 months last year.

Her six-year web of deceit started as soon as she was granted leave to remain in Britain in 2004-which meant she enjoyed full welfare benefits as any UK citizen.

At first, the court heard that she applied for the full range of welfare, including income support, housing and council tax benefits, despite the fact her husband, John Ndirangu, had a job.

The mother, who lives with her daughter in UK duped the authorities into giving her two National Insurance numbers, one in her real name and the other in her maiden name, so she could work and demand welfare benefit claims at the same time.

Prosecuting, Mr David Jugnarain, said her fraud also included an application to the government for maternity pay, despite the fact she was already receiving it. He said at the original court case: ‘The value of the fraud in this case is just in excess of £200,000 .’

In addition, she falsely claimed legal aid when she was sacked from the council, when they realised she had another job despite the fact she was signed off sick. All hell broke lose in 2011, when it was discovered she held three jobs- two in housing groups and one at the Hammersmith and Fulham council.

This did not stop her from claiming a jobseeker’s allowance. As the Sterling Pounds flowed her way she quickly amassed prime rental properties in Cricklewood, Forest Gate and Clapton – and even one in Kenya. She then rented out the houses thereby earning an extra income.

The court was also enraged by her actions last year whereby she proceeded to demand for legal representation paid by the UK government during the civil proceedings despite admitting earning handsome returns from her investments.

Mrs Popoola has since been released on licence after serving less than half her term and is free to remain in the UK despite rising protests that she be deported for abusing UK government’s welfare programme.

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