Three NHS bosses used names of U2 stars in £1.4 million fraud, court told

Shropshire Star 10 October 2018     By Dominic Robertson 

 

Three NHS managers cost Powys Teaching Health Board £1.4 million by using the names of U2 members to award contracts to a bogus construction firm, a court has heard.

Mark Evill, 42, Robert Howells, 65, and Michael Cope, 44, helped secure payments to a company set up by Evill himself, who then used the cash to buy properties, jewellery, cars and luxury holidays to Dubai.

A court was told project manager Evill set up a construction firm George Morgan Limited to secretly award contracts to himself from the health board.

He also created fictional employees using the real names of U2 band members Bono and The Edge to correspond with health board colleagues and wrote up fake invoices from legitimate firms to make sure his crimes were not uncovered by auditors.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard yesterday the construction work carried out was later considered to have “major deficiencies”, with remedial works bringing the total cost of the fraud to £1,420,604.66.

Work was carried out at Welshpool Hospital, Brecon War Memorial Hospital, and the health board’s headquarters at Bronllys Mansion House during 2014 and 2015.

Fellow project manager Howells and estate manager Cope were allegedly bribed with cash to endorse bids by George Morgan Ltd, knowing the firm was in fact owned by Evill.

Prosecutor Christopher Rees said: “Expenditure from the George Morgan bank account showed Mark Evill was living high on the hog at the expense of the National Health Service.”

Mr Rees said a total of £707,946.24 was paid by Powys Local Health Board to the George Morgan Ltd account.

Cash withdrawn from the account was allegedly used to buy a Land Rover Defender, an Audi A4, a Husqvarna motorcycle, holidays to Dubai, a Chanel watch and properties in South Wales.

Evill was interviewed by police in 2016, when he admitted creating two fictional employees, Paul Hewson and David Evans, who signed off on quotes and corresponded with the health board over email and phone.

Mr Rees told the court Paul Hewson is the real name of U2 singer Bono and David Evans the name of its lead guitarist, The Edge.

Mr Rees said: “It is a mark of the blatant, brazen and provocative dishonesty of Mark Evill that he chose to use the names of members of U2 to further this fraud.”

Howells was allegedly given a £10,000 Ford Focus and £1,000 by Evill as an award to enable the award of contracts and payments to George Morgan Ltd, despite knowing his fellow project manager was its sole director.

Cope was also allegedly given a £500 cheque to “endorse” the use of Evill’s firm to the health board.

Evill, from Earlswood Road, Shire Newton, denies three counts of transferring criminal property, fraud and perverting the course of justice.

Howells, from Sedbury, Chepstow, and Cope, from Garden City, Merthyr Tydfil, both deny one count of fraud. The trial continues.

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