A Halifax businessman is starting a 15-month prison sentence after a jury found him guilty of swindling more than £100,000 from the National Health Service.
Sarfaraz Ali, who operated a business called UK Surgical, submitted two false invoices to the East Lancashire Hospital Trust back in 2009 for around £1,700, but a subsequent address error in their records meant he continued to receive further payments over the next eight months.
Judge Peter Benson said it appeared that the 35-year-old had seen an opportunity when his business had some financial difficulties.
Ali, of Milton Place, off Hopwood Lane, received one payment of £83,501.39 which he immediately transferred through a number of other bank accounts.
Ali had denied a total of 14 charges relating to offences of fraud and money-laundering and following a week-long trial the jury at Bradford Crown Court returned unanimous guilty verdicts.
Judge Benson said the loss to the NHS was in excess of £102,000 and it was clear that the offending was fraudulent from the outset.
“You’re an intelligent man and knew the workings of the payment system within the NHS,” noted Judge Benson.
“It may well be that you hoped that the further payments that did materialise would materialise, but I don’t sentence you on that basis because it was an error in the NHS that led to those monies coming in.”
But the judge told Ali he was fully aware of what was going on and he did nothing to correct the error.
“You readily took advantage of those windfalls...to feather your own nest,” the judge added.
The judge said he was going to give Ali some credit for the good works he had done in his community, but he said the defendant had told lie after lie to try and pull the wool over the eyes of the jury.
Ali, who had no previous convictions, will serve about half of the 15-month sentence, but he also faces further court appearances under the Proceeds of Crime Act which could lead to him having to hand over any assets later this year.