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Conviction in Legal Aid Agency £469,477 fraud case

Conviction in Legal Aid Agency £469,477 fraud case


A judge and lawyers convicted for fraudulently inflating legal fees and false claims from Legal Aid. Malcolm McHaffie of the CPS emphasised the severity of their actions

A barrister and part-time immigration tribunal judge, Rasib Ghaffar, aged 54, stands as the final figure convicted in a group of lawyers involved in defrauding the Legal Aid Agency. Alongside him, Gazi Khan, a 55-year-old legal clerk, Azar Khan, a 52-year-old solicitor advocate, and Joseph Kyeremeh, a 73-year-old solicitor, orchestrated a scheme to dishonestly claim defence legal costs, shaking the foundation of a system designed to support acquitted defendants.

This case unfolds after a comprehensive police investigation into fraudulent claims for Defendants' Costs Orders (DCOs) submitted to the Legal Aid Agency National Taxing Team. DCOs allow acquitted defendants who privately funded their legal defence to reclaim some costs from the taxpayer. The accused solicitors and counsel manipulated this system by inflating legal fees and submitting false claims.

The prosecution honed in on four claims arising from the legal costs of acquitted defendants, totalling £1,856,584. Of this amount, £469,477 (25%) was illegitimately paid out. The intricate web of deceit involved Gazi Khan, who served as the leader of this criminal operation, Azar Khan, the principal partner in City Law Solicitors Ltd, and Joseph Kyeremeh, also a principal partner in the same firm.

Gazi Khan, working as a clerk to Shadid Rashid, facilitated fraudulent defence cost orders. Azar Khan's firm initiated work on a case well before its conclusion, claiming over 500 hours of work and pocketing £93,000 falsely. Joseph Kyeremeh claimed 650 hours of work, valuing over £176,000, with £60,000 coming from public funds.

The recently convicted Ghaffar played a crucial role, issuing a fee note in his name for £184,000, reflecting over 350 hours of work, despite being instructed only seven days before the case's conclusion. The evidence, however, contradicted the claimed timeline.

Malcolm McHaffie of the CPS emphasised the severity of their actions, stating, "These convicted defendants defrauded the Legal Aid Agency for their own purposes." He commended the collaborative efforts of the Metropolitan Police and the CPS in bringing these corrupt legal professionals to justice. The CPS is now set to initiate confiscation proceedings to reclaim the ill-gotten gains derived from the fraud.

This case underscores the commitment of the CPS to work alongside law enforcement and investigatory authorities, ensuring that fraudsters targeting the public sector face the consequences of their actions. The conviction serves as a warning that dishonest practices within the legal system will be met with rigorous investigation and prosecution.