Money-laundering and fraud probe at East Lancashire DWP

FRAUD INQUIRY The Pension Centre at Simonstone

FRAUD INQUIRY The Pension Centre at Simonstone

First published in News This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Reporter

A money-laundering and fraud investigation is underway at two East Lancashire government buildings.

The Burnley Pensions Centre in Simonstone and the Job Centre Plus, Blackburn, are at the centre of a probe into allegations of criminal misuse of bank details by members of staff.

The Department for Work and Pensions have refused to disclose the details of the ongoing in-house investigation and the Lancashire Telegraph understands bosses have told staff not to talk about the matter.

However, one ‘disgusted worker’ contacted the Lancashire Telegraph and said a DWP and Lancashire Police raid took place at the pensions building in Blackburn Road, Simonstone, on June 15.

Two members of staff were arrested and their homes were also searched.

The person said: “Management have told us not to talk about this.

"I am a disgusted worker who thinks this needs to be aired.”

The Lancashire Telegraph understands the investigation centres on claims that customers who phoned into the Burnley Pensions Centre to change their bank details had money stolen from their accounts.

The allegation is that the stolen money was then laundered through another employee’s account.

It is believed the DWP is also investigating whether bank details were then passed on to somebody at the Job Centre Plus, Penny Street, Blackburn, which were then used to make fraudulent claims.

A DWP spokesman said: “Two members of staff were arrested on 15 June 2011 at Burnley Pension Centre.

"The Department cannot comment further on what is an ongoing investigation.”

The employees are on police bail until September 14.

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