Former Cambridge don who defrauded Government energy grants repays more that £1m

An ex-Cambridge University academic and convicted fraudster has paid £1m back to the taxpayer after a National Crime Agency investigation to track his hidden assets.

Ehsan Abdi Jalebi, 42, was sentenced to four years behind bars in 2018 after claiming more than £2m from a green energy project.

The NCA proved he was falsifying documents to secure government grants to his company Wind Technologies Ltd.EA J cash3

Investigators discovered that companies affiliated to him had made a series of grant applications to the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Innovate UK for the purpose of funding research.

The lying don put false information on documents, including invoices and bank statements, to show how money was being spent.

Jalebi also used the bank accounts of some of his PHD research students to receive what were known as ‘studentship payments’ from the companies, with the money then being transferred to his own personal accounts.

The CPS applied for a Confiscation Order in August 2021 where it was established that Jalebi had amassed a criminal benefit of £2,095,928.

He was ordered to repay £1,055,977.78 based on available assets, with a seven-year default sentence if he failed to pay.

The NCA’s Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team commenced international enquiries with Iranian authorities based on suspicions that Jalebi had assets there.

The NCA and CPS relentlessly pursued Jalebi’s foreign wealth resulting in him selling assets and transferring £988,411 to the UK exchequer.

In addition, he has paid a further £60,000 from the proceeds of a house sale in Trumpington, Cambridgeshire.

Rob Burgess, Head of Asset Denial at the NCA, commented: “This is a hugely significant result and demonstrates the agency’s ability to recover criminal assets even under challenging circumstances, such as where they are held abroad.

“We have demonstrated our drive and ability to pursue continuous enforcement activity against those subject to Confiscation Orders to ensure they do not retain the proceeds of their crime.”

Cynthia Caiquo, CPS Proceeds of Crime Legal Manager, said: “Jalebi stole government money, which was intended to provide green energy and help improve the environment.

“Through our work with international jurisdictions we were able to secure the repatriation of £1m, which has now been returned to fund future projects.”

Jalebi came to the NCA’s attention in 2015 after Border Force stopped him as he attempted to board a flight to Tehran from Heathrow with £100,000 in cash hidden in chocolate boxes. He was then stopped again in 2016 with a further cash amount at the airport.

The investigation that followed found that Jalebi was using the grant money to fund a lavish lifestyle which included investing in property and the lease of a Maserati sports car.

12 April 2023