Police raid office in Unite union’s HQ in fraud investigation

Police have raided an office in the headquarters of one of the UK’s biggest unions as part of an investigation into allegations of bribery, money laundering and fraud.

More than 20 officers from South Wales police arrived unannounced on Wednesday at the offices of Unite in Holborn, central London. Police took away a number of items including documentation, notebooks and a computer.

The raid was part of a joint inquiry by the south Wales force and HM Revenue and Customs. Officers also executed warrants in the South Wales, Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales, Dyfed-Powys and Northamptonshire police areas.

A Unite spokesperson said: “A Unite employee is subject to a criminal investigation by the police. On Wednesday 6 April the employee’s office at Unite HQ, in Holborn London, was accessed and searched by the police under warrant.”

Unite was Labour’s most generous donor under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party. In December its new general secretary, Sharon Graham, said she planned to cut donations to Labour and divert the money to union campaigns.

Graham, who was elected in August, has launched an inquiry into how the building costs of a hotel and conference centre in Birmingham spiralled into a “potentially significant loss” for the union.

The initial projected cost for the 170-room complex was £57m, but the cost soared to £98m, an increase Unite said was a result of safeguarding employment practices onsite.

A police spokesperson said: “South Wales police has executed warrants as part of an investigation into allegations of bribery, fraud and money laundering. The warrants were executed on Wednesday 6 April at addresses in the South Wales, Metropolitan, Merseyside, Cheshire, north Wales, Dyfed Powys and Northamptonshire police force areas.

“The joint investigation with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is continuing and a number of suspects will be interviewed in due course.”

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