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Corruption leads to Proceeds of Crime payback order

One of the four men convicted of corruption and bribery at Edinburgh City Council has been ordered to pay back a five figure sum under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court, 64 year old Charles Owenson was ordered to pay back £22,000 having also previously plead guilty, in 2015, of having laundered money from bribes paid by two other men.

Owenson had been employed as a painter and decorator by Edinburgh City Council between 1991 and 2011, including working within the Property Care Services department.

He was one of four who were in contravention of the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1989 which involved payment of bribes totalling £42,000 and the provision of hospitality inducements worth in excess of £30,000.

Owenson, and James John Costello, were bribed with cash payments, and hospitality, in exchange for allocating maintenance and repair contracts to Action Building Contracts Ltd, run by Kevin Balmer and Brendan Cantwell.

The four were jailed for a total of 13 years and 2 months after admitting their crimes in June 2015.

Owenson has now been ordered to pay back £22,000 within 6 months. 

A Confiscation Order is an order made by the court following criminal conviction, to pay a fixed sum of money from the proceeds of crime.

An application for confiscation is one of the tools at the disposal of the Crown under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act 1995.

The Serious and Organised Crime Division works together with colleagues at the Civil Recovery Unit, and other law enforcement agencies, including UK Police Forces, HM Revenue and Customs and Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) to identify and recover the proceeds of crime.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is a committed member of the Scottish Government’s Serious Organised Crime Task Force. The Task Force has a remit to pursue serious organised crime in all its forms by bringing together all agencies involved in tackling organised crime groups. Task Force members include the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General, representatives from COPFS, the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, HMRC, SPA, NCA, SPS and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre. Details of the work of the Taskforce can be accessed here: