Brighton and Hove housing chief faces further police interview in £18m fraud case

Posted On 25 Oct 2014 at 12:07 pm

Detectives are to interview suspended Brighton and Hove City Council housing chief Jugal Sharma for a second time as they investigate allegations of an £18 million fraud.

Mr Sharma, 53, of Holland Road, Hove, was interviewed under caution last month but has yet to be given a date for his next interview.

The interview was part of Operation Parade, an investigation by Sussex Police into claims that housing contracts worth £18 million were improperly awarded.

Mr Sharma was due to appear before a council disciplinary panel on Wednesday (22 October). He denies any wrongdoing.

His supporters point to an innovative scheme devised by Mr Sharma about ten years ago to cut the council’s huge bill for housing homeless families in bed and breakfasts. It was a response to a change in government policy.

Jugal Sharma

Jugal Sharma

Mr Sharma’s brother Ashley Parker appears to have been one of the beneficiaries of the scheme although Mr Sharma maintains that he declared the conflict of interest properly at the time.

Mr Parker, 51, of Balfour Road, Ilford, in east London, is one of four men who were arrested in August as part of the police investigation. All four have now had their bail extended until January.

Mr Parker is a director of a company called KEM Property Services. He was arrested at the same time as Edward Charles Parker-Bancroft, 57, of Harlands Road, Haywards Heath. Mr Parker-Bancroft is a shareholder in KEM.

Another of the four men arrested in August was Alan Fisher, of Ashvale Drive, Upminster, in East London.

Mr Fisher, 67, is a former partner of Reeve, Fisher and Sands, an Essex firm of conveyancers that was wound up last December.

The firm closed after tax inspectors from Revenue and Customs started an investigation into an alleged stamp duty fraud that was reported to have left more 80 homeowners in financial difficulties.

Reeve, Fisher and Sands is named on the deeds of two London properties associated with Mr Sharma and Mr Parker.

A fourth man who was arrested in August, a 53-year-old from Elms Road, in Clapham, south London, has also had his bail extended.

A statement from Sussex Police said that another man, believed to live at the same address as Mr Parker, was interviewed under caution in August and will also face a further interview.

The force said: “The four men arrested on (Wednesday) 6 August by detectives investigating allegations of fraud at Brighton and Hove City Council Housing Department, on suspicion of misconduct in public office and corruption, have been informed that their bail dates are now being extended from (Tuesday) 14 to (Friday) 17 October to dates in January 2015.

“The men are

  • A 51-year-old man arrested at an address in Balfour Road, Ilford – bail extended to (Tuesday) 20 January
  • A 57-year-old man arrested at an address in Harlands Road, Haywards Heath – bail extended to (Wednesday) 21 January
  • A 53-year-old man arrested at an address in Elms Road, London – bail extended to (Thursday) 22 January
  • A 67-year-old man arrested at an address in Ashvale Drive, Upminster – bail extended to (Monday) 26 January

“A 53-year old Hove man was interviewed under caution, by appointment on (Wednesday) 17 September, and a 45-year old man from Balfour Road, Ilford, was interviewed under caution by appointment on (Thursday) 14 August, both on suspicion of the same offences. Dates have not yet been set for them to be re-interviewed.”

The investigation, Op Parade, is being led by Detective Sergeant Sally Smith.

 

  1. sara Reply

    It is now 25 October and nowhere can I find any information about the Council hearing held on 22 October about Jugal SHARMA the suspended head of housing. Why? What is being hidden? And why are hearings about his brother and four cohorts delayed again this time until January 2015?? What is being hidden or is it just to make residents lose interest in Council scandals and abuse of contracts and backhanders as the Green Party and all of Brighton face elections?

    And is the TEMPORARY replacement for Mr Sharma still costing the Council–which is always crying poverty—approx. GBP 1000 DAILY??

    IF THIS IS TRUE that is totally scandalous because no one on the Council nor its departments should be receiving approx 365,000 pounds in these times of crisis. This is ridiculous!

  2. Valerie Paynter Reply

    I hope there will be an article one of these days telling us what the Council CEO, Council Leader and Labour Opposition folk have to say about the year or more of paying a temp £1,000 a day to basically just fill a chair while the Housing Dept. continues to be a worry to Council tenants if not anyone else.

    Is there anyone taking responsibility or do the mice run things in Housing now?

  3. George Coombs Reply

    Yes, Valerie Paynter and Sara both make valid and important points around this affair,the local council is too secretive about too much, this affairs has taken far too long to come to light, what the local council needs to put in place is, focus and authentic listening, focused, timely and accurate communication, the situation is not good at all and I will be continuing to watch this matter with concern

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