Thursday, 27 October 2011

Energy Broker boss faces fraud charge over fees

A head of energy procurement for more than 100 British local councils has been accused of a £2m fraud by allegedly taking "management fees" from Centrica and npower on top of the energy they supplied.

Ross Knowles, who worked for the state-owned energy buyer LASER, pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of money laundering at a court in Kent last month.

One of the counts relates to alleged illegal transfers "for the purchase of a Jaguar [car]". The other charges claim Mr Knowles dishonestly abused his position "by negotiating a management fee with Centrica of 0.04p per kWh of energy supplied", plus "a management fee with npower of 0.05p per kWh of energy supplied", which were allegedly diverted into his bank account.

LASER is the body which buys energy for most councils in London and the South East. It signed a three-year contract to buy gas from British Gas, owned by Centrica, and electricity from npower, at the beginning of September 2009.

There is no suggestion that Centrica or Npower would have known about any alleged fraud.

A spokesman for Centrica declined to comment on the case, but said: "Management fees are standard industry practice." Npower declined to comment.

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