UK: US$ 200 Million Down the Drain in Broadband-Sewer Scam; Four Convicted

Published: 08 February 2017

Crew Installing Fiber Cables Beneath Manhattan smallCrew Installing Fiber Cables Beneath Manhattan (Photo: Stealth Communications CC BY-SA 3.0)  

By N'dea Akei Yancey-Bragg

UK authorities convicted Tuesday four men on fraud and bribery charges for a £160 million (US$ 200.18 million) scheme that tricked banks into investing in the installation of broadband networks in sewers.

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that four defendants were found guilty of falsifying contracts to obtain millions in loans from Barclays Bank and KBC Lease Limited.

“This was a carefully planned, complex and lucrative fraud which ran over three years,” said David Green, the director of the SFO.

Stephen Dartnell, George Alexander and Carl Cumiskey targeted public institutions like universities and the National Health Service to secure long-term payment contracts.

Their unique selling point was that they could lower costs by installing fiber-optic Internet cable connections in sewers.

Between 2007 and 2010, the fraudsters conspired to falsely inflate the value of these contracts, in some cases fabricating them entirely to get loans.

The fourth defendant, Simon Mundy, received a £900,000 (US$ 1.1 million) bribe to be the “inside man” at KBC who approved the loans.