Senior manager for Costain and Laing O’Rourke JV on the project one of those jailed
Four rail firm employees have been sentenced to up to two years in prison for offences involving corruption, fraud and money laundering on the £250m upgrade of Farringdon Station in central London carried out by Costain and Laing O’Rourke.
The British Transport Police (BTP) started investigating allegations in February 2011 after a whistle blower at Alandale Rail (now Alandale Track and Civils Ltd) contacted the mayor’s office at City Hall.
Innocent Obiekwe, 42, a senior manager on the project for Costain and Laing O’Rourke responsible for health and safety, received payments from Alandale Rail employees John Zayya, 51, and Kevin McKee, 57, in order to secure a lucrative contract and additional work to supply safety critical staff.
Obiekwe provided information to Alandale Rail, which ensured that they had “a positive influence on the tender process and could undercut bids made by competitors,” BTP said.
The initial value of the contract was £2.1m but eventually rose to £5.2m.
Further payments to Obiekwe were later made through William Waring, 56, to ensure Obiekwe continued to favour Alandale Rail.
BTP added that the corruption did not stop after Alandale won the contract.
Obiekwe and the others were also part of a scheme to defraud Costain and Laing O’Rourke’s joint venture by claiming for ‘ghost workers’ by falsifying invoices and timesheets to create bogus claims for work carried out by safety critical staff working for Alandale Rail.
BTP said Obiekwe received payments in excess of £140,000, along with other gifts and favours.
Detective Constable Justin Yorke from British Transport Police Commercial Fraud Squad 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.
“Obiekwe provided confidential information to Alandale Rail Ltd which ensured that they could undercut competitor bids, in order to secure this lucrative contract. He was motivated by greed and took bribes from Alandale Rail Ltd employees. 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 scale of the corruption was significant. Whilst we may never know the full extent of money fraudulently claimed and laundered, I am pleased that we have brought a criminal gang to justice.”
Obiekwe, Zayya and Waring were all sentenced two years in prison and disqualified from being directors for eight years after pleading guilty.
McKee was sentenced to 12 months in prison and also disqualified from being a director for eight years, while Alandale Rail was fined £25,000.