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.
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.
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