Councillor arrested on Suspicion of Fraud Offences

A Labour councillor from Wolverhampton has been arrested on suspicion of fraud offences. An investigation is set to get underway.

Councillor arrested on Suspicion of Fraud Offences f

"A 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of fraud offences"

Labour councillor Harman Banger was arrested by West Midlands Police “on suspicion of fraud offences”.

Mr Banger, who represents East Park on Wolverhampton Council, has been released pending a full probe.

It was reported that he was one of two people arrested in connection with the same allegations.

Mr Banger, who lives in Claverley, was the council’s Cabinet member for City Economy until the week commencing June 15, 2020, when the authority announced he had stood down for personal reasons.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said:

“A 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of fraud offences and has been released pending further investigation.”

Mr Banger has been a councillor since 2011. He was appointed to the Cabinet in May 2019 by council leader Ian Brookfield.

This is not the first time that Mr Banger has been investigated. In 2016, he had been probed by the authority’s director of governance, Kevin O’Keefe.

The investigation was launched in July 2015 after an anonymous letter made allegations of improper conduct on the part of councillor Mr Banger.

However, a Standards Committee found that there was no case to answer.

On the finding, Mr Banger had responded:

“I have always maintained my innocence and have always believed that the allegations were spurious and were a deliberate plan to destroy my character and political future.

“This was an attempt to tarnish the image of me and my family with bad publicity in the press and defame me and my family in the general public and the Asian community.

“Following the investigation, I have been completely exonerated from all allegations and it would appear the collusion has taken place between those people who instigated the investigation.”

The original allegation was that Mr Banger was not living at his declared address.

In May 2016, Mr O’Keefe told the standards committee that there was no evidence to support that claim.

But he did report evidence that “material omissions” had been made from Mr Banger’s register of interests.

It later emerged the alleged “omissions” centred on his role at the Kings Hall Banqueting Suite in Monmore Green, where he is the premises licence holder.

The council’s code of conduct for members states that councillors must comply with statutory requirements to “register, disclose and withdraw from participating, in respect of any matter in which you have a disclosable pecuniary interest”.

He was cleared of breaching the code and went on to raise concerns about how the allegations were handled.

He said: “I would ask why when a normal allegation to the standards board takes three months why mine has taken 14 months?

“This prolonged agony has caused much distress and anxiety to my family.”

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”