An investigation led by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), working alongside the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), revealed that for more than seven years Janine Adeleke, 45, of East Sussex, claimed to be unemployed. In fact she was running her Bexhill-based escort business, Carltons of London, which claimed to offer ‘high class’ escort services, providing the “finest London escorts to gentlemen of distinction”.
Investigators found that Adeleke had stolen £212,000 in unpaid Income Tax, National Insurance Contributions and tax credits payments by declaring that she had no income. She also fraudulently claimed over £37,000 in Income Support and other state benefits, and laundered £157,000 of illicit cash, all while sending her children to private schools and splashing out on beauty treatments, gym membership and foreign holidays.
Tim Clarke, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service,HMRC, said:
“Adeleke broke the law to fund a lavish lifestyle and privately educate her children. She defrauded vital public services and stole benefits designed to help struggling families.
“She pleaded poverty, but this was far from the truth. She didn’t declare her income because she didn’t want to pay any tax. But she did want to claim state benefits, which are meant to support people on low incomes, and she certainly wasn’t entitled to receive them.
“Working with our investigation partners at the DWP, and linking benefit claims with tax records, our teams can identify if a claimant is lying about their work and benefit status. But our investigations don’t end when a criminal is convicted, and we are now working to reclaim the money Adeleke stole.”
Investigators uncovered evidence of lavish spending with £103,000 spent on beauty treatments, leisure and holidays, and an additional £88,000 spent in high street stores. They discovered that more than £1.2 million had passed through her bank accounts, enabling Adeleke to splash out at least £120,000 on private schools between November 2006 and January 2014, including a school which charges up to £30,000 a year.
As a further deception to hide her income, when Adeleke discovered she was being investigated, she laundered £157,000 through her elderly mother’s bank account.
Adeleke pleaded not guilty to seven separate counts of fraud, including money laundering, cheating the public revenue, tax credits and benefit fraud at Canterbury Crown Court on 3 February 2017. She was found guilty on Monday 16 October after a three week trial at the same court. She was immediately jailed for three years.
Confiscation proceedings have started to reclaim the money stolen by Adeleke.
Upon sentencing Adeleke, Her Honour Judge Norton, said:
This was “quite simply breathtaking dishonesty on an extraordinary scale over a lengthy period of time”and Adeleke’s evidence was “evasive, difficult to follow and contradictory”. Her Honour said when Adeleke encountered questions she was not expecting she had “difficulty providing any kind of answers” and Adeleke was “making it up, as you went along”. Her Honour added that the evidence was “utterly overwhelming”.
It can now be reported that this was a retrial, after the Court of Appeal ruled in December 2016 against the previous conviction of September 2015. Her Honour said she would have handed down a longer sentence, but was “bound by law not to pass a sentence greater than that previously handed down”.