A Ugandan benefit fraudster who stole £4million from the British taxpayer is claiming asylum because of the disgrace she faces if she was sent back to Uganda.
Ruth Nabuguzi is insisting that relatives are angry at the shame she has brought on them through her criminal activities in UK, the Daily Mail has reported.
Nabuguzi was accused of an ‘outrageous abuse of the hospitality’ shown to her by Britain when she – along with a gang of other fraudsters – was convicted of stealing more than £4.1million from taxpayers.
The 20-year scam saw her gang create fake identities for up to 100 children to milk the benefits system.
She was yesterday ordered by a judge to pay back £1.5million of the money she stole or face having her six-year jail sentence doubled.
Nabuguzi had also claimed to have HIV and Aids to receive costly drugs which she then sent back to Uganda to be sold to genuine victims at a huge profit.
It was estimated that supplying the medicines to her, as well as four other made-up patients, cost the taxpayer more than £2million.
Now, in a further twist to her case, the Daily Mail has learned that Nabuguzi plans to make an asylum application in a bid to halt deportation. When she was jailed in November 2012 she was told that she would be kicked out of the country.
Immigration sources have said that Nabuguzi claims her life could be ‘in danger’ if she returned to Uganda because of the ‘ill will’ felt towards her for the shame she has brought upon her family.
‘She has repeatedly said people who know her might wish to harm her when she returns to Kampala,’ said an immigration source. When the Nabuguzi case was first heard two years ago it emerged some £154,000 went on education for members of the ‘family’.
Fraud relating to accommodation costs and sub-letting of flats by Nabuguzi cost £650,000, and the family’s benefits, including child allowances, disability benefits, and council tax totalled £900,000.
She re-appeared at Croydon Crown Court in South London last month for a hearing in which the defence and prosecution submitted arguments to Judge Nicholas Ainley – who presided over the 2012 trial – on how much she should repay. At yesterday’s confiscation hearing the judge announced his decision.
She appeared in court alongside Ronald Kavuma, 37, who was told to repay £157,000.
Last night Conservative MP Julian Brazier praised the actions of the judge and said: ‘I welcome the fact the judge has taken such a tough line.
‘However, I hope the tribunal that deals with this woman’s attempt to stay in this country do not allow her to do so. If they do allow her to remain the system is not fit for purpose.’
The lengthy 2012 trial heard that in a campaign of deceit lasting more than two decades Nabuguzi’s ‘family business’ saw them ‘conspire together to create, use and exploit’ false identities to carry out the staggering fraud. Eight of the group were sentenced to a total of 19 years by Judge Ainley.
At the time he told Nabuguzi: ‘This was a fraud on a huge scale and it is an outrageous abuse of the hospitality you were offered by this country.
‘The identities you used and no doubt sold were then used by other people. You had no scruples in bringing children to this country and then involving them in your criminal pursuits. This was motivated entirely by greed.’
During the February hearing the judge heard how she had spent much of the stolen money on a complex consisting of luxury apartments, shops, restaurants and a hotel in her home city of Kampala, the Ugandan capital.
Plans for properties were found when police raided the gang’s homes across East London.
Yesterday the same judge told an emotionless Nabuguzi she had been behind a ‘large scale thriving business over a period of many years’.
The judge told her that she had also rented out at least 15 properties to illegal immigrants and added: ‘Her evidence was that she was helping fellow Ugandans. That is nonsense. She was running a large scale business and she was running it for her own gain.
‘Money was sent out to Uganda and was deployed in building complexes including flats, shops and hotels. She is the beneficial owner of a number of properties in Uganda. She will now have to dispose of them to pay monies back to this country.’
The judge told Nabuguzi to repay £1,512,34.43 in six months or face a further six years in prison.
It emerged during the February hearing that another member of her gang was said to have boasted in prison that police had found only ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of what was stolen by the gang.