A benefit cheat who illegally claimed benefits from Babergh District Council has been ordered by a judge to hand over more than £35,000.
Kaj Jensen, 75, of Whatfield Hall, Whatfield, near Hadleigh, had received the money in housing-related benefits since 2007.
Jensen had claimed he was unaware of having done anything wrong but in November was found guilty of fraud by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court and received a 10 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.
He has now returned to the same court for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing designed to recoup as much as possible of what he gained from his offending.
The court heard that specialist financial investigators had established Jensen’s benefit from the fraud was £35,217 and that he had in excess of £112,000 available in assets.
Jensen disputed the figures and asked Judge Martyn Levett to reduce the amount payable.
After hearing submissions from Jensen and the Crown Prosecution Service, Judge Levett ruled that Jensen should hand over the full £35,217 by April 12.
Failure to comply with that deadline would result in 12 months being added to Jensen’s sentence, warned the judge.
During Jensen’s trial the jury had been told that while claiming housing and council tax benefit and failing to notify the council of a change in his circumstances, Jensen had travelled extensively including to China, Africa and the Far East over a four year period.
Prosecutor Lynne Shirley said Jensen shopped at upmarket stores, spent thousands in hotels, restaurants and garden centres and one year ran up a £999 phone bill.
During the trial the court heard that Jensen had failed to disclose when claiming benefits that he was a director of a number of companies, had a private pension and that his wife received a Danish pension. Two bank accounts were also not disclosed.
Jensen, who represented himself during the trial, said while giving evidence that he had found it difficult to understand the amount of benefit he was being paid and had felt unable to question it.
Was that the best he could come up with?
He claimed the foreign travel referred to by the prosecution had included trips paid for by his children, one to assist police in Ghana after he became the victim of a fraud and others to Denmark with the aim of setting up a business.