Published: Wednesday, 21st December 2016

The man attempted to fraudulently purchase a Royal Borough of Greenwich council home.

Charles Kimani Hahn, from Grove Park, pleaded guilty to four counts of benefit related fraud under the Social Security Administration Act 1992 and four counts of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006. He was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment on 20 December at Woolwich Crown Court.

Mr Hahn, 43, had been the tenant of a one bedroomed flat in Davern Close SE10 for many years and in June 2009 applied for re-housing due to overcrowding of his growing family.

However in June 2010 he purchased a house in Essex but failed to inform the Royal Borough of Greenwich that he owned the property in Essex. When the council offered him a two bedroomed maisonette in a prime Blackheath location in May 2012 he again failed to notify the council that he had alternative accommodation and signed for the new tenancy.

In June 2012 and December 2013 Mr Hahn signed documents claiming his Right to Buy the council maisonette, for which he would have been granted a £100,000 discount.

An investigation of his Right to Buy application led to officers uncovering details about his alternative property in Essex and that he had been employed directly, or through agency work for several public bodies in executive posts where he attracted salaries of over £50,000 a year. As part of the Right to Buy investigation, officers also discovered that he had been claiming housing and council tax benefits to which he was not financially entitled.

At the hearing, the court heard that the housing benefit overpayment amounted to £23,398 with a similar figure of £23,000 in loss to the council where he had deprived another family of the use of a home and having to be accommodated in emergency temporary housing, which costs the council significantly more than its own accommodation.

In sentencing, His Honour Judge Shorrock told Mr Hahn "In the summer of 2012 someone meeting you would see a well presented Head of Health and Safety at a large London borough with a good salary; no-one would have guessed what a fraud you are." He commented on the circumstances that led to Mr Hahn purchasing a property and not declaring it, adding "you then had the brass neck to accept a larger property offered by the council in good faith, with the culmination of your fraud being that you had the cheek to then take up the Right to Buy the council flat."

Mr Hahn was given the custodial sentence, for which he was told he would serve at least half of that time. A timetable was set for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing for the council pursue the losses that it has incurred.

'Defrauded tax payers'

Councillor Maureen O'Mara, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said: "Council investigators have a range of powers at their disposal to combat tenancy fraud and get back properties for those that genuinely need them. Mr Hahn sought to deprive a family of affordable, decent council housing, for his own financial gain. Not content with fraudulently trying to purchase a council home, but he also defrauded tax payers by stealing money through the benefit system meant for people in genuine need."