An NHS manager jailed for fraud will be forced to pay back more than £220,000 he stole from a CCG or face an additional three years in prison, Snaresbrook Crown Court ordered last week (4 October).
Michael Inije, 58, of Stainforth Road, Newbury Park, Illford, defrauded NHS Newham CCG by a total of £382,519 through submitting invoices sent only to himself for approval.
Mr Inije, who was formerly the deputy accounts and governance manager at North East London Commissioning Support Unit (NEL CSU), pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced to three years and nine months’ imprisonment in October 2018.
The £220,431.48 sum he is to pay back represents all his known assets, according to the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA).
Mr Inije’s crime was discovered in May 2017 after a colleague noticed that a £18,536.95 invoice was submitted to a company called DAVII J SERVICES LTD, and was not certain what services they had provided the CCG. A fraud investigation was subsequently carried out on behalf of NHS England.
The payment was then withheld while extra checks were made and an investigation into possible fraud was carried out on behalf of NHS England as ‘suspicions grew’, the NHSCFA said.
The suspicious payment was for alleged claims support given to Continuing Healthcare (CHC) case assessments and reviews in March 2017. However, it was later revealed that the invoice had been approved by Mr Inije, ‘who would not normally approve payments relating to CHC’, the counter fraud body said.
The accounts system had been set up so that invoices from DAVII J SERVICES LTD were sent only to Mr Inije for approval. Investigators subsequently found that the company’s sole director was Mr Inije.
It also transpired that between November 2013 and May 2017 he had submitted and approved 24 additional invoices to DAVII J SERVICES LTD, which were worth a total of £382,519 and paid out of Newham CCG’s funds.
‘A good example of collaboration’
Richard Rippin, head of operations at the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) said: ‘NHSCFA welcomes this successful outcome. It sends a clear message that where people seek to exploit the NHS for their own personal gain, we will take all action necessary to ensure that defrauded money is recovered and returned to the NHS to be used for what it was originally intended for – the delivery of patient care.
‘Mr Inije’s greed meant hundreds of thousands of pounds for the care of NHS patients was diverted into his pocket. NHS England oversaw the original fraud investigation and NHSCFA followed through with its financial investigators to recover the money, a good example of collaboration.’
‘Money back in NHS where it belongs’
A spokesperson from NEL, a commission support unit, said: ‘Following the discovery of a potentially fraudulent incident, we followed NHS England procedure by reporting it to the NHS national counter fraud team.
‘Internally, we followed our disciplinary procedure; the staff member involved was suspended immediately and, following investigation, was dismissed from NEL.
‘Our processes have been reviewed and we are confident that the necessary rules and procedures required to protect the NHS across England remain robust. We are pleased that following the investigation, the money is being returned to the NHS where it belongs.’