Two former council employees plead guilty to corruption over contract awards

Four men – including two former council employees – have this week pleaded guilty to corruption in relation to the allocation of work contracts for public buildings.

The four defendants at Edinburgh Sheriff Court were: Charles Owenson (62); James Costello (44); Brendan Cantwell (44); and Kevin Balmer (54). They will appear before the court again on 15 May.

The investigation into the award of contracts has been ongoing since 2010.

Owenson and Costello were employees of Edinburgh City Council, while Cantwell and Balmer were former directors of a building company.

Further charges of fraud and money laundering were also libeled against some of the men, Police Scotland said.

Three other men, including two ex-council officers, were discharged after their not guilty please were accepted.

Detective Inspector Arron Clinkscales from Police Scotland said: “This enquiry has attracted significant media coverage due to the misuse of public funds.

“Where reports of fraud or corruption in public office are made, Police Scotland will investigate such allegations thoroughly and robustly.

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

Sue Bruce, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Council, said: “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.

“We have reviewed and made substantial changes to our management arrangements for this service. 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.”

Slide background