NHS managers ‘used names of U2 members in £700,000 fraud’

Mark Evill, Robert Howells and Michael CopeImage copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Mark Evill, Robert Howells and Michael Cope are accused of defrauding Powys Teaching Health Board

Three men defrauded the NHS of £700,000 by awarding contracts to fake people in the names of U2 band members, a court has heard.

Mark Evill, 47, and Robert Howells, 65, of Chepstow, and Michael Cope, 42, of Merthyr Tydfil, all deny fraud.

The three were employed as managers with Powys Teaching Health Board.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard they awarded contracts worth more than £700,000 for work at hospitals between February 2014 and August 2015.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The court heard one of the alleged fraudsters was a U2 fan

Mr Evill also denies perverting the course of justice and three counts of transferring criminal property.

Jurors were told the project manager signed off work to his own company George Morgan Ltd – named after his dog.

The court heard he wrote emails, quotes and invoices to himself and made up fake quotes from real companies to cover his fraud.

Prosecuting, Christopher Rees, said: “Mr Evill set up George Morgan Ltd to divert dishonest health board contracts to himself.

“He created more than one fictitious character, Paul Hewson and David Evans, to correspond with members of health board.

“They are the real names of Bono and the Edge from U2, a band he listens to, used to further his fraud. It’s a mark of the blatant and provocative dishonesty.”

He is alleged to have spent the money on lavish holidays in Dubai, designer watches, houses in Wales and expensive cars.

Mr Rees added: “He lived life on the hog at the expense of the health service.”

Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph
Image caption Bronllys Hospital has one 15-bed general ward, but no A&E department

Some of the work at the children’s wing of Brecon Memorial Hospital, Bronllys Hospital and Welshpool Hospital was not carried out.

The court heard a chartered surveyor raised concerns of “major deficiencies” in the completed work and concluded the cost to rectify the work would cost £1.4m.

Jurors were told Mr Howells, a project manager, received a Ford Focus car worth £10,000 and cash from Mr Evill after becoming aware of the fraud.

Mr Rees said: “He played a vital role in facilitating the fraud. He allowed himself to be bribed to allow Mr Evill to continue his actions.”

The court heard how Mr Cope, an NHS estate manager, also received money from Mr Evill’s company to “corruptly forward work and corruptly endorse” his bids for work.

The trial continues.

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