Jailed ex-UN consultants invested bribe money in Hampstead and Maida Vale property

Patrick Orr

Patrick Orr - Credit: central news

Two former UN consultants received bribes and invested the money in Hampstead and Maida Vale properties as part of a contract-rigging scheme to supply life-saving drugs to “starving Africans”, a court heard.

Sijbrandus 'Art' Scheffer

Sijbrandus 'Art' Scheffer - Credit: central news

Guido Bakker, 41, and Sijbrandus Scheffer, 63, have been jailed for taking corrupt payments totalling £650,000 in return for helping Danish pharmaceutical company Missionpharma win lucrative contracts to supply medicine to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The pair disguised payments through a network of offshore companies, and bought properties in London’s most exclusive districts, including Hampstead and Maida Vale.

It was not revealed how many north London properties the pair invested in.

Scheffer, of Swanley, Kent, was jailed for 15 months while Bakker, of The Netherlands, was jailed for a year at Southwark Crown Court last week.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Michael Grieve said: “It is corruption in the context of a very large grant for the relief of disease in one of the most deprived countries on earth.”

The court heard the men were driven by financial greed, and they bragged about how they could make money out of “dying and starving Africans”.

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The pair, both Dutch nationals, hoped to make as much as £44million from the plot.

The judge said: “This was, in my view, to be your secret fund channelled through a network of companies in order to disguise your benefit, and for you to draw from as equal partners.

“The major expenditure out of it was earmarked for the London property market. I do note your motivation and genuine desire to lend your help to people in the world in desperate need of it. I think you saw this as an opportunity to get something back for yourselves by way of a payout - a deserved pension - and you took it.”

The pair’s company, World Response Consulting, won contracts from the UN Development Programme to combat HIV and Malaria in the DRC.

They used their inside knowledge to leak crucial details to Missionpharma to “stack the deck” in favour of the company in its UN bid.

In return, they received bribes and used their London-based solicitor Patrick Orr to set up a firm to receive these corrupt payments. In an email in May 2006 to Bakker about how to “make loads of cash now”, Scheffer wrote: “Clearly supplying small amounts of grossly overpriced drugs to dying and starving Africans is a very good start.”

The pair hid their links to Missionpharma as they promoted the company to the UN.

But in 2007 the UN launched an investigation into the men and how the contracts were awarded. They were arrested the following year.

Scheffer was found guilty of accepting or obtaining corrupt payments, fraudulent trading and transferring the proceeds of crime, and Bakker pleaded guilty to accepting or obtaining corrupt payments.

Orr, 48, was earlier found guilty of being concerned with money laundering and given a two-year jail sentence suspended for 12 months.