Cambridge academic caught on plane with £100,000 in a box of chocolates jailed over £2.8m green energy scam

From The Telegraph

Dr Ehsan Abdi-Jalebi, 37, was stopped by Border Force officers at Heathrow with a £100,000 in cash in a Thorntons Continental chocolate box as he boarded a flight to Tehran in May 2016

Dr Ehsan Abdi-Jalebi, 37, was stopped at Heathrow as he boarded a flight to Tehran Credit: NCA

By Jamie Merrill

21 December 2018 • 8:28pm

A Cambridge academic who stole £1m from a government green-energy project has been jailed for four years.

Dr Ehsan Abdi-Jalebi, 37, was stopped by Border Force officers at Heathrow with £100,000 in cash in a Thorntons Continental chocolate box as he boarded a flight to Tehran in May 2016.

The discovery prompted an investigation by the National Crime Agency, which found he had used fake documents to siphon off money into his own accounts from funding allocated to the development of renewable energy projects.

He had used the funds to develop a property in Iran worth £900,000 and to lease a Maserati sports car as well as a property in Cambridge.

Abdi-Jalebi had won international acclaim for his work on wind turbines and set up his technology firm Wind Technologies Ltd in 2006.

But, he dishonestly received project funding to the value of £2.8m in grant money from Innovate UK, the EU and The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Investigators discovered that the his firm had made a series of grant applications to the government to fund research, but on a number of occasions Abdi-Jalebi had falsified documents, including invoices, accounts and bank statements to show what was happening to the money.

At the same time he had used the bank accounts of some of his PHD research students to receive what were referenced as “studentship payments” from the companies, with the money then being transferred into his own personal accounts.

Judge Martin Beddoe told Abdi-Jalebi: “Of the funding dishonestly obtained you trousered £1m yourself.”

Wind Technologies Ltd was entitled to grants for part of the costs incurred but not for the total amount, the court heard.

Abdi-Jalebi altered the invoices, increasing Wind Technologies costs to make up for the costs that were not covered by the partial grants.

The company would therefore receive de facto 100 per cent grants instead of partial grants.

Jonathan Polnay, prosecuting, said the fraud was “a long-running course of conduct.”

“The Department of Energy and Climate Change and Innovate UK were submitted forged invoices which resulted in £2.5 million being handed over,” he said.

Following his arrest, Abdi-Jalebi lost his fellowship at Churchill College in Cambridge as the National Crime Agency spent 18 months examining his financial history.

NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby said: “While the companies that Dr Abdi-Jalebi was involved with were doing some legitimate work in the field of renewable energy, he used them as a cash cow to siphon off money.

“This money had come in as government grants, so it was essentially stolen from taxpayers.

“Through some great detective work and after analysing thousands of documents NCA investigators were able to prove that he was a fraud.

“While we have identified a number of UK assets held by Abdi-Jalebi the likelihood is that most of the money ended up in Iran, which will make it far more difficult to recover.

“However, we will do everything in our power to recover as much of that UK taxpayers’ money as possible.”

Read the full story here



97 thoughts on “Cambridge academic caught on plane with £100,000 in a box of chocolates jailed over £2.8m green energy scam

    • That means you and I have to pay for his life in the nick forever, because that money aint ever coming back from Iran.

      • I have seen the Bank’s of Scotland £100 note, but can’t remember ever seeing one issued by Bank of England.
        Sterling notes are 0.1 mm thick, 1000 Scottish notes split in four bundles of 25 mm each would just about fit in an average size box, while for £50 English notes he would have needed the Thorntons Large Continental Chocolate Box 432g selling at £20.

      • This year, the substantial revenue generated by the UK’s Department of Transport (VOSA) for all those poor UK drivers whose cars have suddenly failed their annual MOT (purely on revised May 2018 CO2 emission level targets) should easily cover the cost of this Cambridgeshire eco-scumbags theft of our tax-payers money. Dirty green money IN, Dirty green money OUT.

      • Quarter of a million a year that sentence works out at and who says honesty is the best policy. Being brought up to be honest these days is the worst handicap you can inflict on a child is nearer the truth.

  1. So it was a Border official that discovered the cash.
    With 100s of billions in grant money raised there seems to be two levels of scams.
    Some nonsense about “Global Warming” or “Climate Change”.
    Step One is the con job to get the money.
    Step Two is to divert it into your own pocket.
    And I used to think that stock promotions were bad.
    But at least the suckers falling for those scams acted voluntarily.
    In the climate scam taxpayers are essential innocent, being defrauded by their government.

    • Does the border security get to keep the confiscated cash similarly as do police agencies here in the US?
      Such a system has only elevated some police departments to merely top parasite in the ‘War on Drugs’. They laxly conduct border entry searches and confiscations but seize upon the cash once the sales have been conducted. The reasons are quite simple. Confiscated drugs must be destroyed. Confiscated cash is theirs to keep.

      • Rocketscientist

        I think we’re a bit more pragmatic in the UK.

        The confiscated money goes into the governments coffers, and they waste it on renewable subsidies.

    • Take a certain company which is pouring out unsubstantiated green nonsense to justify its worthless windfarms, indeed if the numbers are correct, they receive more money as subsidy than they do for selling electricity. It is a monumental fraud against the tax payer and it is legal!

      • Modern turbo diesels have surprisingly good performance. I’m old enough to remember when diesels were rough, noisy and painfully slow. My current car is a two litre turbo intercooled diesel and it combines quite startling acceleration with 45 mpg.

        • Yep.
          I went from a two ton 2.8 turbo diesel Shogun to a dinky little 2.0 Sear Leon. It’s basically a GT VW Golf with different body styling.
          The improvements in both performance & economy are amazing.
          John Doran.

        • Stonyground

          I have owned two diesels. One a Citroen Grand Picasso 1.6 turbo diesel and the other a Mercedes E Class 2.1 turbo diesel. Both amazing cars that could cruise at 95 mph, fully loaded and both returning 40+ mpg. The Merc was quick too, 8 seconds or so 0 – 60 mph and onto 140 mph plus.

          But I still don’t think a diesel lump in a Maserati is an appealing proposition. Just get a Merc if you want performance from a diesel. Leave petrol Maserati’s to stir the soul.

      • My question too! How many other similar situations are there? How do we know that? When is the report due out (and by whom?) which demonstrates the scope of this issue? And last but not least, who is ‘cracking the whip’ to make sure the investigation is promptly and fairly done and NOT swept under the rug?

  2. Perhaps he considered that stealing money that was originally absconded under false pretenses was acceptable. For someone with a PhD, he doesn’t seem all that bright, although criminals tend to lean that way anyway.

    • It’s fairly well understood by government contractors that an accountant who knows how to support claims of enormous overhead costs is worth his weight in gold. The Maserati, for example, could have been declared a test bed for diesel fuel research, necessary for properly evaluating the benefits of alternate power sources. The judge said he pocketed about 40% of the grant money. This is a very modest overhead for a research institute. After completing his post-doc in the 4 year advanced accounting program in prison, he won’t make this mistake next time.

      • Hell, 100,000 pounds ($127,000) won’t even pay the salary of one “Paris Accord distributions” administrator – and we need THOUSANDS (maybe tends of thousands) of these bureaucrats.

        We haven’t even talked about their travel budget…

  3. There is easy money for anyone willing to “hedge-bet prove” any part of AGW. I wonder who else stuffs research expense ledgers with bogus expenses.

  4. So he gets 4 years, which means he will be out in 2 years. Looks like he will likely keep most of the money since it is in Iran. Maybe not so bad a business model!

  5. How many times does this now make that the “greens” have been caught in fraud using climate change as their vehicle for corruption? And how many times have the green delusions of fossil fuel funding the skeptics turned out to be true?
    I’m not keeping score but it has got to be at least 10:0 by now.

  6. This guy was just an amateur “green-energy project” sort of con artist unlike Musk who does it big time professional style.

    It all begs a nice question.
    Why the “Maserati sports car”?
    Was he planning on a quick gasoline powered get away back to petrol rich Iran?

    Surely if he had been in a true greeny pet projects “TESLA”, then at least he would have a good excuse for it running out of gas and getting stranded rather than trying to get on a carbon powered sooty aircraft?

  7. How many have been doing this for years, and were not dumb enough to get caught? He got caught by the border agents, and then “The discovery prompted an investigation by the National Crime Agency”.
    Where is the oversight of the people that send him money?
    They have no responsibility to make sure the money provides something of benefit to the taxpayers?
    If the bureaucrats are just shoveling money out the door, you can be sure there are plenty more out there, moving money around, and not foolish enough to go to the airport with “£100,000 in cash in a Thorntons Continental chocolate box”.

  8. Talk about small potatoes, this guy.

    He is but a mere rounding error when looking at Solyndra.. only one of many over the past 10 years.

  9. Reverse racial profiling at work to some degree would be in play in the UK and EU in general. I think it would be a good bet that the diversity klatch would feel somewhat less likely to be ‘targetted’. Had he not been so greedy that he diverted funds in a variety of ways and had only gone for the one million, I’d give him an 80 % chance of pulling it off.

    Remember the girl who got a degree in “Feminine Glaciology” and a journals hadn’t the guts to turn her completely worthless paper down because of her flagging it as a gender thing? It was reported on WUWT several years ago. Remember also that “progressives” accept ‘feelings’ as legitimate ‘evidence’ for a theory in the post normal science world. I would bet there is a fair amount of ‘playing the card’ in one way or other in a field that is already phrodulent on a phundamental level. Like dopers ripping each orher off.

  10. Meanwhile his Oxford colleague need some more money to asses risk of another solar doomsday
    ” Solar storms could cause blackouts and leave Britain with £16 billion worth of damage, warns Oxford University
    “If the Earth were to experience a Carrington-sized event without upgrading our current forecasting capability, it could cost the UK up to £16bn in the most severe scenario.”
    The ‘do nothing’ scenario where the UK fails to invest or invests minimally in replacing satellite monitoring capabilities means existing forecasting skill levels will decline.
    This increases the risk of critical national infrastructure failure because there may be little early warning that an event is taking place. There would be less time for infrastructure operators to implement mitigation plans.”
    The risk analysis is quoting 1859 ‘the Carrington Event’ and 1989 collapse of Canada’s Hydro-Québec.

  11. Big Clime at work. First they rob taxpayers and ratepayers blind, then they rob from each other. No honor among thieves.

  12. Climate change fraud is the primary disease. Dr Ehsan Abdi-Jalebi’s green theft is a secondary infection.
    You have to defeat the primary disease to prevent opportunistic secondary infections!

  13. While all this excitement was going on reports came in of a bank robbery in Longyearbyen in Svalbard (1,000km from the North Pole) on Friday. See:

    The chap responsible was caught in short order – it’s hard to hide in a town of 2,000 people. I don’t know how much he got, but I suspect it will have been a lot less than the good doctor. As Vito Corleone so nearly said:
    ‘One Green with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.’

    Of course, if it wasn’t for Anthropogenic Global Warming,
    there wouldn’t be any banks in Svalbard to tempt people.

    • That is interesting. I believe there hasn’t been a bank robbery in Yellowknife NWT. The only stolen vehicle I heard about was one Harley Davidson motorcycle which disappeared and probably left town in a truck.

      Similarly, robbing a bank in Inuvik: where are you going to run to? Tuktoyaktuk? And them what? Kayak? It’s -17 C outside. And there are hungry polar bears everywhere.

  14. The sad thing is most of these scammers get away with millions, all legal like the Solyndra executives. He was actually pretty dumb. He should have did it using stock options.

  15. The report states that “This money had come in as government grants, so it was essentially stolen from taxpayers…” Well, yes, ALL money wasted on wind “energy” is stolen from the taxpayers.

    • Perhaps stealing from a thief is considered a praiseworthy in the Persian moral code, so this young man may have thought he is doing a good did.

  16. As riches increase, so do those who consume them.
    This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.


  17. Continental Chocolate Gift Collection
    Price per 100g = £3.52

    About $16 per pound in USA money

    Add another $XXX to get it across the Pond and through the woods.

  18. Perhaps he could be made an example.

    To wit: hang him up by the eyelids, kick him between the legs until he blinks.

  19. Greeeeeeeeeen energy is the scam for me.
    Faaaaaarm living on your subsidy.
    Cash spread around so far and wide.
    With trousers full I’m heading off to Dubai.

  20. Mr Fyfe said that he was threatened by Ofgem with the use of sweeping powers under Section 105 of the Utilities Act.
    In September 2017, he decided to leave his job with Ofgem E-serve. He sought help from the charity Protect, which aids whistleblowers.

    According to his allegations, Ofgem had lost control of the system and was recklessly paying out many millions in the form of green energy subsidies which come from taxpayers’ funds.

    British exporters claim to have shipped over 35,000 tonnes more plastic than HM customs recorded leaving this year

    RHI scandal: £2.5m cost of suspected fraud in just one case

  21. Willis was wondering where the money for the climate fraud in the USA had gone now we know where some of the UK money has gone and it ain’t coming back.

    James Bull

  22. When it comes to climate change US federal grant money to universities, how much total money is involved yearly? Which schools and professors receive the most money? What is the percentage of the money that is spent on actual research (fake data allowed) and then on overhead of this this grant? What actual paperwork is needed to show how the grant money is spent? Where does the paperwork get sent to to prove actual expenses are legit? Which US government agency provide the climate change grant money? When is grant money given to the university, and what happens to the money not spent? How often does climate change grant money get approved year after year? Who checks for fraud with these grants? What do the climate change grant money actually produce?

    • Gary,
      Universities have agreements with the Federal Government (USA) based on audits of the school’s budgets. From that an allowed “overhead” is paid on the “salaries” portion of funds. The % varies depending on the type of research institution (geology, chemistry, physics research can be expensive, versus say history -nothing wrong with history).
      The proposal for the research, written by the investigators, will have a budget that will be looked at by the university office and the funding agency. Once awarded, the spending of that money will be allocated as proposed and monitored by the university auditors. A large project can have several sources of funds so expenditures are watched closely.
      Because the budget is set in advance there will be only minor amounts near the end of a project that “may seem to be” left over. In fact, that just means the principle investigator failed to spend it when it should have been. Something such as paper and printing costs might get billed at the end of a project instead of 6 months before.
      Major research institutions do get funding over and over, or sometimes for say a 3 year project. The researchers are responding — year after year — to the Request For Proposals (RFPs) prepared by the funding agencies, say the National Science Foundation.
      You write: “Who checks for fraud …” Actual fraud, in the sense of taking money from the grant to buy a new car for personal use, is monitored by the university auditors.
      You write: “What do the climate change grant money actually produce?
      Being serious, the proposal will say upfront — before any money is granted — what the research products will be, for example: papers, posters, a piece of equipment and its use and data, and so on. Surprises are not expected.

      If you think “climate change” research is a waste of resources, that is a different concept and not part of funding agency nor researchers concern.
      I suppose WUWT and other people and places try to decide.

  23. gary asks “What do the climate change grant money actually produce?”
    to date nothing, absolutely nothing of use to the human race.

  24. I hope that the NCA investigators don’t stop there.

    There must be plenty of others living the good life off the taxpayer that could do with a good, honest grant enquiry. High-profile does not always mean high-integrity.

  25. “Through some great detective work and after analysing thousands of documents NCA investigators were able to prove that he was a fraud.

    Meanwhile, when considering lost economic growth, the great climate scam is bleeding the worlds economy to the tune of $Trillions under their noses, in the broad light of day. But people in power will not acknowledge it.

  26. But, he dishonestly received project funding to the value of £2.8m in grant money from Innovate UK, the EU and The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).


    So, like every other wind energy startup ever?

  27. This makes me wonder how much government grant money, from the USA, UK, or wherever, ends up being ‘trousered’ as Judge Beddoe said.

  28. Where did all the taxpayers money go ?

    The answer my friend is blowin in the wind.
    The answer is blowin in the wind.

  29. Only if you think there are baby unicorns sniffing in the luggage scanner one is dumb enough to believe banknotes in a chocolate box go through undetected.

  30. When you’re already engaged in the scam known as wind energy, it’s a small step to outright embezzlement.

  31. “However, we will do everything in our power to recover as much of that UK taxpayers’ money as possible.”

    Translation: we want this to go away because we look like fools, and people might realize anyone can stiff the government not just political hacks and bureaucrats, and we do not like the competition.
    Oh wait he was receiving a government pay check from a government university.
    On the USA we had Solyndra a great scam about 900million dollars of taxpayer money evaporated, and then claimed a few hundred million more as loss on taxes, while owners walked away with full bank accounts.

    • I met a couple of NCA detectives a few years ago when they were in Canada investigating money laundering via cross-border sales and purchases of stocks in a “junior” mining exploration company. They deposed me because I had done some geology for the company.

      They told me that the NCA was a recent creation to tackle serious and organised crimes at the national and trans-national level. As you may know, police forces in the UK are organised by region, with the Met (“Scotland Yard”) helping out in special cases. But the Met focuses on traditional crimes like murder, robbery etc. The NCA looks mostly at financial crimes. These guys prided themselves on being elite. They didn’t seem to have a very high opinion of our national police force (the RCMP).

      I’ve read that the NCA also investigates human trafficking in its various forms. Again, mostly trans-national crimes.

  32. Pedant report:

    ‘in a box of chocolates’

    ‘in a Thorntons Continental chocolate box’

    Not the same. The chocolates were presumably gone.

  33. So, let’s extrapolate this example to the case where the Paris Accord will involve hundreds of billions of US dollars equivalent—if not trillions—being in play around the world in search of carbon-free nirvana. Does anyone think for one moment that there won’t be proportional massive fraud and waste.


  34. What about the Shukla clime syndicate incestigarion, what became of that? Of course, now the “progressives” now have regained the house, there will be no need for getting NSF/NASA’s $9 million accounted for.

  35. Yeah right. “Legitimate work” in the field of climate change?

    Where do they think he learned to make up nukbers and cook his books?

  36. Why not give the lying bastard the same sentence he would get in Iran .
    Hands cut off at best ? Maybe he could even help with their nuke plans .
    Unfortunately the climate con game is full of dirt bags masquerading as planet savers .
    Tax payers screwed as usual . Now they get to pay for Dr Asshole’s prison food too .
    France is looking for virtual scientists so he should land something there .

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