Ex-Edinburgh City Council workers plead guilty to corruption over contract bribes

Four men have pleaded guilty to corruption relating to the allocation of building work contracts at the City of Edinburgh Council.

Between January 2006 and November 2010, ex-council employees Charles Owenson (62) and James Costello (44) received £42,521 in cash and another £30,249 worth of hospitality as inducements to award contracts to Edinburgh-based ABC Ltd.

In addition, Owensen received £28,387 as rewards for helping ABC Ltd secure work, while Costello received £14,134.

They pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sherriff Court, alongside Brendan Cantwell (44) and Kevin Balmer (54), the former directors of ABC Ltd.

All four men also admitted fraud and breaching proceeds of crime charges.

Sherriff Michael O'Grady adjourned the case until 15 May.

Detective Inspector Arron Clinkscales of Police Scotland said: "Where reports of fraud or corruption in public office are made, Police Scotland will investigate such allegations thoroughly and robustly.

"The outcome at court endorses the hard work of Police Scotland and the partner agencies involved in a long and complex enquiry."

Sue Bruce, chief executive of City of Edinburgh Council, said the council has made "substantial changes" to its management arrangements to prevent any repeat of bribery for contracts.

"We expect the highest standards from our staff and where allegations are made concerning mismanagement or fraud we will investigate and take the strongest possible action," she said.

"It is important that the public have the utmost faith in the services we provide. The overwhelming majority of our staff are committed to making a positive difference to the lives of people in Edinburgh."

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