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A UK based Ghanaian lawyer, John Blavo, has been ordered to refund more than £22million in public money after investigators found out that the money which he used to fund a lavish lifestyle was fraudulently made from the state.
Blavo, who among other things blew the money on eight mansions across the world, including one in Ghana, set up Blavo&Co Solicitors and used it to generate 23,000 fake claims on the UK’s Legal Aid scheme.
His firm specialized in mental Health law and legal aid cases. It grew rapidly after it had been set up and by 2015 it had more than 200 staff in 18n offices across England and Wales with a turnover of more than £11million a year.
At least 80 percent of the law firm’s income came from legal aid cases making it the second highest earner from legal aid practice in England and Wales.
But in 2015, the firm was closed by Solicitors Regulatory Authority after concerns were raised about its huge legal aid claims. The Metropolitan Police then began criminal investigations.
Even as the investigation is still ongoing, a high court judge hearing an application by the Lord Chancellor for the Recovery of the funds has ruled that the Blavo firm had an “endemic” culture of making fraudulent claims on the legal aid fund
Lord Garnier QC, a former Solicitor-General said that the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) must carry out a thorough audit to ensure that no other fraudulent claims had been made by Blavo&Co Solicitors where John Blavo is Director and sole shareholder.
Mr. Justice Peperall, ruled that because Blavo is the sole shareholder and managing partner of the firm, he must repay£22.136,001 that was fraudulently claimed on legal aid work on mental health cases that did not exist.
But the money is apparently gone because the Blavo’s mansion at Hertfordshire is already up for sale for £3million to help him settle his bills.
Neighbors of the Ghanaian solicitor at highbrow Leafy Street, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, had welcomed him and his family to his multimillion-pound mansion with drinks and evening dinner parties. They had been later dazzled with automobile marques and supercars including a Barbie Pink Mercedes Benz driven by his daughter.
The 57-year-old and his wife, Lynn, 60, a former Mental Health nurse soon got on the nerves of neighbors with late night raucous parties even as their privately educated children, Daniel and Stephanie, kept juggling luxury cars in the driveway if the family home.
Mansions owned by the Blavos are said to be located in places including Ghana, Cyprus and Marbella. A Mercedes Benz S220 and a Mercedes AMG C43 are listed as some of his expensive toys.