£266k confiscated from Edinburgh contractors jailed for bribing council pair

4 April 2017, 16:06

crown office

More than £266,000 has been confiscated from two contractors who bribed council officials.

Kevin Balmer, 54, and Brendan Cantwell, 46, were each jailed for more than two years in 2015 after pleading guilty to charges of corruption. Balmer also admitted an additional charge of fraud.

The two men served as co-directors of Action Building Contracts (ABC) Ltd, a construction company specialising in the refurbishment of buildings.

They were found to have bribed Edinburgh City Council officials with cash payments and hospitality in exchange for being allocated maintenance and repair contracts.

The corruption involved the payment of bribes totalling more than £42,000 and the provision of hospitality inducements worth more than £30,000.

The "hospitality'' included corporate seats at football matches and nights out at bars and lap dancing clubs.

At its height, ABC Ltd turned over more than #4 million each year and employed more than 70 staff. It went into voluntary liquidation in 2010.

On Tuesday, Balmer and Cantwell were handed confiscation orders of £95,000 and £171,223.92 respectively at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Liam Murphy, procurator fiscal for specialist casework, said: "Balmer and Cantwell set out to corrupt those who should have been serving the people of Edinburgh, and siphoned money from the public purse into their own pockets.

"Both were imprisoned for over two years, and today our detailed forensic assessment of their financial history has ensured that they have also been stripped of all of their assets.''

The two council officials they bribed - Charles Owenson, 64, and James Costello, 46, - were also jailed in 2015 after pleading guilty to their role in the corruption.

Owenson and Costello also pleaded guilty to their role in laundering £28,387 and £14,134 respectively.

Painter and decorator Owenson, from Edinburgh, was given the longest sentence of four years and four months while Costello was sentenced to three years and nine months.

Costello had £62,382.76 confiscated last July while Owenson had £22,000 confiscated last month.