‘Extremely poor’: Translator conned his way into court role based on bogus qualifications
Mirwais Patang, 27, translated for defendants in dozens of cases over more than four years despite having no formal training, and submitted bogus timesheets to boost his earnings.
He got the job with contractor Capita when he was just 18-years-old, forging a certificate to convince bosses he was trained to interpret Pashto and Dari.
Patang then assumed the identity of his older brother - a genuine interpreter – to fraudulently claim he had improved his qualifications and could work as a Tier 1 translator.
He was eventually caught out after helping a second bogus interpreter, Solimann David, 27, to get work on an Old Bailey criminal trial about a child sex ring.
The ruse was exposed when Patang tried to overcharge for David’s work, submitting payment claims with the forged signature of the court clerk in the case, Southwark crown court heard today.
An investigation then uncovered the extent of Patang’s fraud, between March 2012 and October 2016, with an expert called in to assess court recordings finding Patang’s translation efforts were “poor” or “extremely poor”.
The court heard the Crown Prosecution Service is disclosing details of Patang’s illegal activities to legal teams in the cases he worked on, raising the possibility of a string of appeals.
Judge Phillip Bartle QC today sentenced Patang to two years in prison suspended for two years, and ordered him to carry out 300 hours of community service.
David was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence, with 100 hours of community service and rehabilitation session, with the judge telling him: “Public confidence in the criminal justice system will have been impacted by the fact you pretended to be somebody who you were not, and pretended to be a qualified interpreter when you clearly were not.”
But he added that in contrast to Patang, David’s interpreting skills during the Old Bailey trial had later been analysed and passed as “good”.
“This has been a long and complex investigation with further fraudulent activity and deceit being uncovered at every twist and turn”, said Detective Andy Cope, from the City of London Police’s fraud team.
“The blind greed shown by Patang, and the total disregard for the implications of his actions and what it might mean for the integrity of serious criminal trials, is truly appalling.
“By thinking of only his own financial gain, he has undermined confidence in the criminal justice system and put victims of crime through unfair stress and worry."
The court heard Patang used his own name to initially get a job with Capita, providing a forged qualification certificate to be hired as a Tier 3 interpreter.
He assumed his older brother’s identity in 2014 and used another forged certificate to be upgraded to Tier 1 work.
He worked on 140 cases, at crown courts, magistrates court, tribunals, and county courts around the Greater London area, with the total loss to the courts service assessed at more than £75,000.
Patang was caught out over-claiming for work at Watford magistrates court in November 2012, when he tried to bill for a full day’s work when the case had been adjourned.
Despite this incident he kept the job and repeated the trick of claiming money for more hours than he had actually worked.
The fraud unraveled after David turned up in Patang’s place for the trial of six men accused of operating a child sex ring in Aylesbury, and the timesheets submitted were spotted as bogus.
Patang, whose sister is a barrister, had forged the signature of the trial clerk who had taken two weeks’ leave, the court heard.
Jeremy Benson QC, prosecuting, said Patang’s phone had been set to automatically wipe when seized by police, and there was no trace at his home of paperwork relating to his interpreting job.
“It was clear he had been tipped off that the police had become involved”, he said.
Patang wrote a letter to the judge calling his actions “stupid” and “naïve”, but was told: “I’m sure he knew exactly what he was doing.”
However the judge imposed a suspended sentence as Patang is the sole carer for his mother and he found a realistic prospect of rehabilitation. Patang, from Hillingdon, admitted three counts of forgery, eight charges of fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud.
David, also from Hillingdon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.