Eight guilty of fraud and money laundering scam at Haringey council

A finance officer at Haringey council admitted making £466,000 fraudulent payments to accomplices for fake services that were never delivered.

Over more than two years, Ceyda Elkatme made the payments to the bank accounts of accomplices who then paid the money back into her or her husband’s own accounts, whilst taking a cut for themselves.

Elkatme, and seven others, are due to be sentenced next week for their part in the fraud and money laundering scam at the council.

During the scam, between June 2010 and October 2012, Elkatme, based in Haringey Council’s Adult Services Payments Team - responsible for administering payment for providers of care services for vulnerable adults, made 66 fraudulent payments to her seven accomplices.

An internal audit by Haringey Council revealed the suspect payments, which were reported to police in December 2012.

After studying the accounts, detectives arrested Elkatme along with seven others in July 2013.

Elkatme, 34, of Sterling Avenue, Waltham Cross, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to fraud by false representation.

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Her husband Jihad Elkatme, 34, of the same address, plus female accomplices Tijen Kacakoglu, 35, of Kimberley Road, Edmonton and Ajda Saykin-Bezci, 39, of Dunheved Road South, Thornton Heath, and another man, Nicos Kolas 33, of Albany Park Avenue, Enfield pleaded guilty to money laundering.

Three further men, Iqbal Bablu, 27, of Landseer Road, Enfield, Mazar Khan, 35, previously of Millicent Grove, Palmers Green and Abid Fostok, 32 of Streamside Close, Edmonton, were all found guilty of money laundering on Monday following a five-day trial at Southwark Crown Court.

Speaking after the trial, Haringey Borough Commander, Supt Amanda Dellar said: “This was a despicable crime where Elkatme abused her position as a finance officer to defraud Haringey Council out of well over £450,000 of what was effectively public money. Working with her husband and accomplices, they set out to launder hundreds of thousands of pounds between them - money which should have been paid to people providing essential care services for vulnerable adults in the borough.”

Haringey council leader Claire Kober said: “We welcome the outcome of this case. Ms Elkatme showed complete disregard for Haringey’s residents and abused her position at the council for the financial gain of herself and those around her.

“We will not tolerate those who seek to defraud local taxpayers to fund their own lavish lifestyles and will always take action and work with the police to investigate and prosecute wherever we discover evidence of wrongdoing.”

They are due to be sentenced on August 19 at Southwark Crown Court.