Health manager in Wales pleads guilty to £700,000 “U2” construction fraud

A manager in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has admitted to scamming his employer, and the taxpayer, out of more than £700,000 by setting up a bogus construction company with fictional directors named after the stars of the rock band U2, and using his position to award his own company work.

Mark Evill, 42, initially denied three counts of transferring criminal property, fraud, and perverting the course of justice, but changed his plea to guilty on the second day of a court hearing in Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court in south Wales.

The court was told Evill set up the company in October 2014, calling it George Morgan Ltd, after his dog.

He staffed the company with fictional employees using the real names of U2 band members Bono (Paul Hewson) and The Edge (David Evans), whose identities were used to sign off on quotes and to corresponded with the health board over email and telephone.

The bogus company carried out contracts at Welshpool Hospital, Brecon War Memorial Hospital and his employer’s own headquarters (pictured), at Bronllys Mansion House, during 2014 and 2015.

His employer, Powys Teaching Health Board, unwittingly paid almost £708,000 to Evill’s firm for work during the period, the prosecution said, allowing Evill to live "high on the hog".

Bronllys Mansion House, the former home of the Powys Teaching Health Board (Cushman & Wakefield)

Among the purchases Evill was said to have made were a Land Rover Defender, an Audi A4, a Husqvarna motorcycle, holidays to Dubai, a Chanel watch and properties in South Wales.

Adding to the fraud, the firm’s work had "major deficiencies" that required remedial action, bringing the total cost of the scam to the taxpayer to almost £1.5m, the court heard.

Also charged were two of Evill’s colleagues on the NHS board. Fellow NHS manager Robert Howells, 65, and NHS estate manager Michael Cope, 44, were charged with accepting bribes to facilitate the fraud.

Howells has pleaded guilty. Prosecutors said he received a £10,000 Ford Focus, and £1,000 in cash.

Cope denies the allegation.

"It is a mark of the blatant, brazen and provocative dishonesty of Mark Evill that he chose to use the names of members of U2 to further this fraud," said prosecutor Christopher Rees.

Evill and Howells were released on bail, and will be sentenced next month. Cope will return to court on Monday to face charges that he endorsed Evill’s firm and received a £500 cheque as a gift.

Top image: Bono and The Edge, of U2, in concert at Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA, 2009 (xrayspx/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)

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