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Record sentence for WEEE fraud

A Yorkshire operator has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling fraud.

Terence Solomon Dugbo of High Ash Avenue in Leeds was handed the sentence, a record for environmental crime, at Leeds Crown Court following a major Environment Agency (EA) investigation and seven-week trial.

Judge Clarke also disqualified Dugbo from acting as a company director for 12 years, stating that he was “a risk to the public”, and he initiated the EA request to begin Proceeds of Crime against Dugbo for £2.2m.

Dugbo has previous convictions for fraud and illegally exporting banned hazardous waste to Nigeria. He had been disqualified from acting as a company director until November 2017 due to debts of a previous company. His involvement in TLC Recycling, which has since gone into liquidation, was in breach of this.

Investigating officers found Dugbo had falsified paperwork to claim his firm TLC had collected and recycled more than 19,500 tonnes of household WEEE during 2011.

This meant he was not entitled to the £2.2m recycling fees he was then paid through producer compliance schemes.

Seized documents showed:

  • money was claimed for waste collections from streets and properties that did not exist
  • vehicles used to transfer waste were recorded as being in Northern Ireland, England, and Scotland on the same day
  • weights of individual items said to have been collected were also exaggerated, with fax machines logged as 47kg and drills 80kg

The waste was taken to another firm run by Dugbo, the Leeds Reuse Centre, for supposed treatment.

Dugbo had denied the charges of conspiracy to defraud, acting as a company director while disqualified, and breaching an environmental permitting condition, but he was found guilty on all counts.

EA senior environmental crime officer Dr Paul Salter said after the hearing: “This prosecution has been the result of a significant, co-ordinated investigation involving operational, enforcement and legal officers in the EA, and with help from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.”

“The length of the sentence handed out by the court today demonstrates the seriousness of Dugbo’s activities. Hopefully this case and the record sentence will act as a warning to others who commit waste crime that they will be pursued and, if convicted, could face serious punishment.”

Clarke praised the EA for its work on the case.

The EA reported Clarke saying in sentencing: “What I found really amazing was the amount and complexity of the false paperwork. The scale of the investigation here was enormous. It took Dr Salter and his team nearly a year to go through the documents they seized in the search of the premises.”

  • The photographs show the TLC site and one of the court exhibits, the alleged route and deliveries of one driver on one day in 2011. 

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