Substantial payments have also been awarded by the courts to
other NHS trusts who fell victim to the same organised crime
group: North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has received
£298,219.79 and Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation
Trust has received £216,584.76.
The original fraud and money laundering investigation,
Operation Tarlac, was led by Lincolnshire Police Economic Crime
Unit (ECU), closely assisted by the national NHS counter fraud
service and its Forensic Computing Unit, all now part of the NHS
Counter Fraud Authority. The Forensic Computing Unit’s specialist
software allowed over 90,000 documents and files to be analysed
rapidly and remotely.
Operation Tarlac revealed that a criminal group defrauded
£12 million from various public bodies including a number of
NHS bodies, councils and housing associations around the UK. The
Guernsey government was also targeted, losing £2.6 million.
The fraudsters employed forged letters, emails and faxes to
masquerade as a legitimate firm and divert payments to themselves.
The investigation resulted in over 50 years of prison
sentences in total. The 14th member of the crime group to be
convicted, Bayo Awonorin, was sentenced in January this year to
nine years and six months’ imprisonment, after pleading guilty to
conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to launder money. He had fled
the UK whilst on bail but was tracked down in the US by
Lincolnshire Police and extradited.
Another conspirator was sentenced to three-and-a-half-years
imprisonment in January 2018, after being detained in Germany on a
European Arrest Warrant. Oil and gas executive Walter Wagbatsoma
was identified by Lincolnshire Police ECU and extradited to the
The international nature of the case went further: funds
were laundered through business accounts in the UK, Dubai, Turkey
and Poland and some of those funds were later moved back to the
UK. One of the conspirators, Oluwatoyin Allison, remains wanted.
He was convicted in his absence in April 2017 and jailed for seven
Operation Tarlac began back in September 2011, with a
complaint of fraud from Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation
Trust. A payment to a building firm of £1.28 million towards
a new mental health rehabilitation unit had gone missing. A
further 20 linked offences and total losses of £12.6 million
suffered by various parties were identified. In sentencing, Judge
Philip Head, described it as a “sophisticated and widespread fraud
in its conception and execution” with the loss failing on the tax
Sue Frith, Interim CEO of the NHS Counter Fraud
Authority, said today:
"I commend the excellent work by Lincolnshire Police. Close
collaboration between the NHSCFA, police forces and other
authorities is vital to root out NHS fraud, especially by
professional criminals. These recoveries for the NHS, and the
original investigation, are good examples of how NHS counter fraud
work helps to curb crimes against the taxpayer even beyond the
NHS. Our Forensic Computing Unit, intelligence, fraud
investigation and financial investigation specialists all played
important roles in Operation Tarlac."
Det Sgt Mike Billam, of Lincolnshire Police ECU,
"Recovering the stolen funds has always been a key objective
in this investigation and so I am particularly pleased that LPFT
has now received the full value of their loss which I know will be
used to benefit our communities. The NHS forensic computing unit
provided exceptional and invaluable support to this investigation,
managing data and saving costs - an outstanding example of
partnership working. The Economic Crime team at Lincolnshire
Police have worked relentlessly since the defendants were
convicted to recover the value of the frauds from those
responsible through the Proceeds of Crime Act. This work is
ongoing and it is hoped that further funds will be recovered."
More than 50 computer devices and 200 mobile phones were
seized by police during Tarlac. NHSCFA’s Forensic Computing Unit
is equipped with the latest technology, which allows terabytes of
data to be forensically imaged and processed rapidly. FCU can
provide a secure remote data review service, allowing data to be
presented to multiple investigators regardless of their physical
If you suspect that anyone is committing fraud or
another economic crime against the NHS, tell NHSCFA about it -
you can call our 24-hour, confidential reporting line 0800 028 40 60 or use our online reporting tool
"NHS fraud. Spot it, report it, together we stop it"
For more information contact the NHSCFA press
office on 020 7895 4524/4523.
Notes to Editors
The NHS trusts targeted by the crime group were:
Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Royal Free
London NHS Foundation Trust North Essex Partnership NHS
Foundation Trust Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
North and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust ignored the fraudulent
request Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
ignored the fraudulent request Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS
Foundation Trust ignored the fraudulent request
- For more details visit the website www.cfa.nhs.uk
- NHS Counter Fraud Authority is a Special Health Authority
established under the NHS Act 2006 as amended.
- When NHSCFA uses the term 'fraud', we refer to a range of
economic crimes, such as fraud, bribery, corruption or any other
illegal acts committed by an individual or group of individuals
to obtain a financial or professional gain.
- NHSCFA will also support the work of the NHS Counter
Fraud Service (Wales).
- NHSCFA will work closely with NHS Local Counter Fraud
Specialists across the NHS in England to ensure that healthcare
crime is tackled and a culture of fraud prevention and deterrence
is in place.
- There are some 300 professionally trained and accredited
Local Counter Fraud Specialists in place within health bodies
across England and Wales.