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18.02.2005 Diaspora News

Fraudster in key post

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Essex, UK, Feb 17 2005 -- COUNCIL bosses at Basildon Council who employed a convicted fraudster say they did nothing wrong.

Bright Oduro-Kwateng, 50, was employed as a council racial equality advisor four years ago, despite having been convicted of using the passports of dead children to allow people from his native Ghana into the country illegally.

Despite being dismissed from Greenwich Council for the offence, Basildon Council was still willing to give Oduro-Kwateng a role in the race relations division.

Oduro-Kwateng was also named as Basildon Council's individual of the year in 2004.

A spokesman for Basildon Council said that having a criminal conviction was no reason not to give someone a job.

He added: "At the time of his appointment, Bright was the best candidate for the post and council procedures have been followed correctly at every stage."

However, when questioned about the procedures, the spokesman said: "The initial feeling is there are no laid down guidelines with regards to how we deal with somebody with a conviction.

"The statutory duty is down to the employee and there is no onus on us as to what we should or should not do."

Despite this, the UK's advising body for Human Resources professionals -- the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development - said councils have to be vigilant when recruiting.

The institute's guidelines read: "Organisations that have a legal obligation to protect vulnerable client groups from people who have committed serious offences should be particularly vigilant about risk management.

"Organisations should assess the risk of employing the person with a criminal record by comparing the applicant's conviction circumstances against risk criteria identified for the job."

The council's senior director, Doug Smith, was not willing to comment about the appointment.

In 1998, Oduro-Kwateng appeared at Woolwich Crown Court and was convicted of conspiring to defraud the home office.

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