A further defendant has been sentenced in the UK’s biggest ever illegal WEEE export case, after investigators found that the court had been misinformed over his ability to pay financial penalties.
Terence Dugbo, who was convicted of breaches of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 at a trial which concluded early in 2013, was ordered to pay fines, costs and confiscation monies totalling £91,000 at a hearing at Basildon Crown Court last week.
Sentencing of Mr Dugbo, who was convicted for his part in the illegal export of hazardous electronic waste from the UK to destinations in Nigeria, Ghana and Pakistan was delayed due to a lack of available financial information.
However, despite being told that the defendant did not have sufficient money to pay a fine for the offences – Environment Agency investigators discovered that he had assets totalling more than £80,000 after examining his affairs this year.
Fellow defendants Krassimir Vengelov of KSV Recycling, Adrian J Thomson and Michael Singh Aulakh were sentenced by His Honour Judge Black in December 2012 – while seven other defendants had pleaded guilty of related offences during a trial in November 2011 (see letsrecycle.com story).
Defendants sentenced in the first trial had appealed their original conviction, but the case was upheld by the court of appeal.
‘We have investigated over a three year period and the various hurdles we have gone through along the way show that we are determined to prosecute people who are committing these offences.’
Andy Higham, Environment Agency
The prosecution followed a lengthy and complex investigation by the Environment Agency which began in 2008 – codenamed ‘Operation Boron’ – with fines for all those convicted now totalling more than £310,000.
Andy Higham, manager of the Environment Agency’s national crime team said that the level of fines sent out a clear message to illegal exporters of WEEE, adding that there are several more investigations into similar offences underway.
Mr Higham also commented that illegal WEEE exports continued to remain a key area of focus for the Agency.
He said: “You could argue that the financial penalty doesn’t cover the risk when you consider the possible environmental and human health impacts of the offence, but it is new legislation and the judiciary are finding their way through it.
“If you look further into it you will see that we have investigated over a three year period and the various hurdles we have gone through along the way show that we are determined to prosecute people who are committing these offences.
“We are investigating other matters in relation to WEEE which are ongoing at the moment, and although it is too early to reveal any details we can say that WEEE is certainly one of our priorities.”