News, Culture & Society

Bangladeshi fraud agrees to community service ‘if it’s light work’

Abdul Jalil, 64, raked in thousands in benefits while secretly remortgaging his house to allow his children to buy this own homes. At the Old Bailey, Jalil agreed to do community service – but only if it is ‘light work’

A benefits fraud who hasn’t worked since 1988 and claimed to have just £50 to his name when he actually had more than £86,000 in his account has been spared jail.

Bangladeshi immigrant Abdul Jalil, 64, who raked in thousands in benefits while secretly remortgaging his house to allow his children to buy their own homes, agreed to do community service – but only if it is ‘light work’. 

Jalil, of Moorgate, east London, admitted dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances. At the Old Bailey today he was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for two years.

The fraudster, who came to the UK in 1969 but speaks very little English, exceeded the amount of cash claimants are allowed to have in 2008 when he was loaned £25,000 to buy his council house.

He did not notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and continued wrongly claiming more than £28,000 over the next eight years. 

Jalil then lied to the DWP about his assets as he filled out his benefits review form on New Year’s Eve 2012.

The father-of six had remortgaged his council flat in May that year for roughly £148,000 and given the money down to his children so they could purchase their own properties keeping around £86,500 for himself.   

Jalil claims he cannot work because of his health, but a probation officer found the only problem he had is a slightly tender right knee.

Jalil, who the court heard is illiterate, was due to stand trial on Tuesday but the court could not find a Bengali interpreter as it was the Islamic holiday of Eid.

He appeared at the Old Bailey today to admit one count of dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances contrary to the Social Security Administration Act 1992, after he and his barrister had a ‘man to man’ chat about the case against him.

Prosecutor Matthew Hardyman said: ‘Mr Jalil has in fact been claiming income support from 1999 up to 2017.

‘Both dates specified in the indictment, 2008 to 2016, there was varying amounts of capital in the accounts held by Mr Jalil and his wife far in excess of the prescribed amount.

‘The Crown do not say that this was dishonest from the outset but on 31 December 2012 Mr Jalil was sent a review form to ensure that he was receiving the correct amount of benefits.’

Jalil completed the form, informing the authorities he had only £50 when the ‘true picture was they had in excess of £86,000’, the prosecutor said.

Sentencing guidelines recommend somewhere between 36 weeks and 21 months in prison for the offence as a starting point, but the judge, Recorder Sasha Wass QC, allowed Jalil to walk free with a sentence of 24 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years.

The judge said: ‘This failure, extending over an eight-year period, resulted in overpayment of £28,771 of benefits to which you weren’t entitled.

‘Benefits in this country are provided to those who need it and are paid out of the public purse.

‘By failing to notify the authorities of your change in financial circumstances you abused that system over a long period, losing the public purse a great deal of money.

‘However, I accept that you were not dishonest from the outset. I understand that you made full admissions when you were interviewed by the Department for Work and Pensions and I fully accept what has been said on your behalf – that you wanted to explore the possibility of pleading guilty while in advance of today’s date.’

The judge said she accepted the submissions of the probation officer, who told the Old Bailey Jalil was ‘deeply ashamed’ of what he had done.

The judge continued: ‘The sentencing guidelines, which I must follow in this case, make it plain that this type of offending at this level will normally attract a prison sentence of between 36 weeks and 21 months.

‘Having heard all about you, including your personal circumstances and how this offence occurred, I propose to sentence you to 24 weeks imprisonment which in your case will be suspended for a period of two years.’

Andrew Collings, defending, said Jalil ‘hasn’t worked himself for a number of years due to health difficulties.’

Jalil told probation officers ‘he would do unpaid work as long as it’s light work’, and the judge ordered him to complete 120 hours.

Mr Collings said Jalil’s ‘misguided sense of loyalty to the children’ was what led to the offending.

‘What they were trying to do in relation to the larger sum of £150,000, having exercised their right to buy a council property, it appears they were persuaded by the children to buy their property,’ he said.

‘To some extent he [Jalil] is the author of his own misfortunes.’

Before sentencing the judge asked Mr Collings: ‘As you understand it the reason he was over the limit of capital sums was twofold: One, because of a loan, and the other is that he and his wife were given an option to buy their own council house and they obtained a mortgage?’

Mr Collings responded: ‘They had their own mortgage and this was a remortgage, as it were, to assist their children.’