A Sandwell councillor accused of providing untrue statements over properties he lived in has been cleared of deliberate wrongdoing.
Cllr Mohammad Rouf was reported to the borough’s monitoring officer after it was wrongly alleged he made intentional false declarations to conceal he was living in a council house.
An investigation by the authority’s audit officers have accepted the Soho and Victoria ward member’s explanation that he had made inaccurate statements on register of interests because he didn’t understand the meaning of the questions being asked.
Cllr Rouf had stated in 2008 he had a financial interest in a house he was living in on Shireland Road despite records showing he did not own the property.
After moving to a council home in Trafalgar Road he again declared he had a beneficial interest even though he was a tenant.
Council investigators stated: ”Councillor Rouf has stated that the inaccuracy was as a result of his misunderstanding of the definition of Beneficial Interest in this context.”
But auditors found he did breach the borough’s code of conduct for failing to register changes in his circumstances within 28 days and had not declared past his employment as a taxi driver in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
Cllr Rouf said he could not remember why his employment hadn’t been included in his declaration of interests.
The report went on to say the delayed and inaccurate statements constituted a breach of the members’ code.
Investigators stated: “Considering the evidence and findings it is concluded that Cllr Rouf has breached the members code of conduct by failure to declare and register his interests although he has since received training on this issue and no evidence has been found to suggest that decisions were improperly made or that Cllr Rouf’s failure was for any personal interest.”
The investigation will now be forwarded to Ethical Standards and Member Development sub-committee who will decide on further action.
Cllr Rouf has been contacted for comment.