Tagged: International Payments


Targetting fraud in Spain

Spain has topped the list of countries for benefit fraud abroad committed against UK taxpayers, new figures reveal. More than 750 cases were investigated in Spain last year by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Abroad fraud cost taxpayers an estimated £84m in 2012/13 – up 90% in the last two years. It is now the third largest type of benefit cheating and includes fraudulent claims for Pension Credit (£52m), Housing Benefit (£19m) and Income Support (£12m).

Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, said:

“Benefits are there to help those who need it and the vast majority play by the rules and would not once dream of cheating. But there is a minority who really try to take the biscuit.

“We have safeguards in place to bring these types of cases to our attention and we will make sure benefits are stopped when there is evidence of a fraud being committed.”

If you suspect a benefit cheat in Spain, then you can call the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) hotline on 900 554 440. It’s free and confidential, and you could help to put a stop to taxpayers’ money going to the wrong people.

New data shows where DWP investigators looked into 7,296 cases of suspected abroad fraud during 2013.

The top 5 nations involved were:

. Spain – 769 cases

. Pakistan – 628 cases

. Turkey – 298 cases

. India – 282 cases

. USA – 246 cases

Figures also reveal that DWP has investigated benefit entitlement for claimants living in countries as far apart as the Holy See, Somalia, China, and Iraq.

Abroad fraud includes claims by people leaving Great Britain after their claim starts, those failing to notify DWP before leaving the country or staying abroad for too long, and families who fail to report the death of someone living abroad permanently and receiving benefits.

The Government is increasing the use of data sharing with foreign countries including Spain in order to combat fraud. Details of claimants who have died whilst in Spain and elsewhere abroad are sent to the UK, helping the DWP to stop families or friends who are fraudulently continuing to claim pensions or benefits.

Richard West, Head of DWP’s counter-fraud teams said:

“Cases range from people hiding foreign assets and homes to those moving abroad, either temporarily or permanently, at the taxpayers’ expense.

“Benefit cheats need to know that even if they are out of the country, our teams will still investigate and where necessary bring them back to the UK to face justice.”

Cases referred to DWP are investigated and where an administrative penalty or criminal prosecution is appropriate, action is taken. In all cases DWP will seek to recover all the money overpaid.

Abroad Fraud has risen to £84m in 2012/13 from £55m in 2011/12 and £44m in 2010/11.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/42557/

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The snail Tudorella mauretanica which suffers from a threat of extinction

There are two ‘green mayors’ in local Spanish politics, in the town of Villena to the north of Alicante, led by Javier Esquembre Menor, and in the city of Orihuela, where, if the censure motion recently filed by the PP is upheld, incumbent, 56 year old former music teacher Monserrate Guillen, could soon be removed from office. Both are ardent ecologists and both say they are totally are committed to environmental sustainability.

Whilst many would say that Gullen pays little more than ‘lip service’ to the Orihuela Costa, one coastal petition that he does pursue with some passion is the ongoing battle to protect the very last mile of pristine coastline at Cala Mosca.

Guillen and his coalition government, with PSPV-PSOE, continue to put forward environmental arguments that will slow down or even halt the development plan at Cala Mosca, a project approved by the previous PP government, which will see the construction of 1,700 homes.

Of the 12 PP councilors in the capital of La Vega Baja, where such crimes are said to be almost endemic, 5 are currently facing accusations or charges of corruption, so the defense of that last mile of unspoiled beach has now become symbolic, especially when, of the 40,000 properties currently standing on the Orihuela Costa there are said to be up to 10,000 that have no certificate of occupancy. Former councilor Antonia Morena said it was hardly surprising as for many years there was little thought given to planning, from private pools to public roads, everything was so haphazard.

The development project was approved by an absolute majority amongst the PP in 2007. The mayor at the time was Monica Lorente, who is now in opposition, and is currently awaiting corruption proceedings in two cases with the ongoing possibility of a third.

Cala Mosca waters are within a maritime protection zone which accommodates one particular genus of flowering plants Posidonia, seagrass, found only in the seas of the Mediterranean. On land there are two other uncommon species, the snail Tudorella mauretanica which suffers from a threat of extinction and the plant, la jarilla de cabeza de gato, a bright yellow flower that is found only in some parts of the Peninsula, the Baleares, Sardinia and the Maghreb region of North Africa.

During a recent visit to the area by an MEP from the European Union, the City Council and the Ministry of Environment were told that that an environmental impact report needs to be carried out on Cala Mosca, and where endangered species are found, however insignificant they may seem, the Spanish authorities who must enforce the environmental community law which outlines the development of enforcement structures and best practices.

“But there are many other interests to weigh,” Guillen lamented. “The impact on the local environment would be disastrous and no amount of money or of power should override that.”

However the words of the mayor contrast with those of lawyer Juan Enrique Serrano, who represents the Madrid based company, Grupo Inmobiliario Gomendio in Cala Mosca. “I understand that there is no conflict”, says Serrano, “we identified 5,000 plants and protected species and we have agreed to create a micro-reserve.” He draws on the examples in Marbella, Mijas, Fuengirola, Benicàssim and Torremolinos where there are buildings on at least 90% of the first 500 meters of coastline.

Indeed the company, who refer to themselves as ‘Creators Of Unique Environments’ is already advertising the sale of the Cala Mosca properties on their website. One of three developments, the 2 bed apartments ‘El Bosque’ costing between 105,000 and 140,000 euro, are said to be available during the last quarter of 2014.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/42538/

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‘Twitters from the Atlantic’ – by Barrie Mahoney

Barrie Mahoney was a head teacher and school inspector in the UK, as well as a reporter in Spain, before moving to the Canary Islands to launch and edit a new English language newspaper. He enjo…

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