Leeds waste operator receives record jail sentence for environmental crime, after illegitimately claiming funds from government-backed Producer Compliance Schemes
A Leeds waste operator has been jailed for seven and half years, after defrauding government-backed recycling schemes out of £2.2m.
Terence Solomon Dugbo, 45, of High Ash Avenue in Leeds, was handed the sentence – the longest ever given for an environmental crime – on Friday at the Leeds Crown Court following a major Environment Agency investigation and seven-week trial.
The trial revealed Dugbo had falsified paperwork from his firm TLC Recycling to illegitimately claim money through government-backed Producer Compliance Schemes for collecting and recycling over 19,500 tonnes of household electrical waste during 2011. TLC’s paperwork indicated the waste was taken to another firm run by Dugbo, Leeds Reuse Centre, for supposed treatment.
However, TLC Recycling had in fact never handled the amounts of waste described, with seized documents showing the firm had claimed money for waste collections from streets and properties that did not exist, while in some cases vehicles used to transfer waste were recorded as being in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland all on the same day. In another instance, a moped was claimed to have carried 991 TVs and 413 fridges between Dugbo’s businesses in a single trip.
Dugbo, who has previous convictions for fraud and illegally exporting banned hazardous waste to Nigeria and was already disqualified from acting as a company director, denied the three charges of conspiracy to defraud, acting as a company director while disqualified, and breaching an environmental permitting condition, but was found guilty on all counts.
“Terry Dugbo’s illegal activities defrauded legitimate recycling schemes out of significant amounts of money,” said Dr Paul Salter, senior environmental crime officer at the Environment Agency, after the hearing. “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.
“The length of the sentence handed out by the court today demonstrates the seriousness of Dugbo’s activities.”
In sentencing, Judge Clarke described the fraud as a “sophisticated” crime from a company that was designed to conceal its intentions from everybody involved. “What I found really amazing was the amount and complexity of the false paperwork,” he said. “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.”
Dugbo is now banned from acting as a company director for 12 years. Judge Clarke, who has also initiated the Environment Agency’s request to begin a £2.2m Proceeds of Crime claim against Dugbo, called him “a risk to the public”.
TLC Recycling has now gone into liquidation.