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Council chiefs probe near £6 million fraud claims
COUNCIL chiefs are investigating allegations of fraud amounting to nearly £6 million within their housing department.
Town hall finance records show Brighton and Hove City Council is looking into payments made to property services company KEM.
KEM is owned by the brother of the council’s former head of housing Jugal Sharma. In January The Argus reported Mr Sharma had been temporarily relieved of his post during the same time the author- ity and police investigated allegations of fraud.
KEM Property Services had a 10-year-agreement with Brighton and Hove City Council to provide homes for the homeless, which is thought to be coming to an end.
The payments being investigated are worth £5.85 million. In the council’s unaudited accounts report, it notes: “A sibling of the Head of Housing is a Director of KEM. This related party transaction has not previously been disclosed by the authority in its financial statements.
“The amount of these transactions was £3.000m in 2013/14 and £2.852m in 2012/13.”
A source at the council said Mr Sharma, who is paid £82,500 a year, an interim replacement had been brought in to cover his position.
The 53-year-old took up his position as head of housing at the authority more than 10 years ago.
A council spokesman said: “The council is continuing to conduct an investiga- tion into the matter. We are unable to comment further on the details of the investigation.”
A spokeswoman from Sussex Police said: “This investigation is continuing. There have been no arrests at this stage and there are no developments to report.”