Mirwais Patang is not an interpreter, but he’s now facing two years in prison for pretending to be one.
When Patang was 18, The Evening Standard reports, he forged documents that made it look like he was a trained Pashto and Dari interpreter. The British newspaper says he then used these fake credentials to get a job with Capita, an Oldham, England based interpreting firm that — at around the same time — came under heat for providing substandard service to the UK court system. Reports say Patang next stole the identity of a real interpreter — his brother — in order to secure assignments at Tier 1, the highest of three classifications used by the British government to determine interpreter qualifications and pay.
From March 2012 to August 2016, fellow UK newspaper The Independent says Patang earned £65,500 or more interpreting across 140 cases at what a London court concluded were “poor” or “extremely poor” levels. But this wasn’t enough to get him caught.
In 2015, Capita assigned Patang to interpret in a high profile case — the Aylesbury child sex ring. But Patang didn’t do it. Instead, he paid his friend Solimann David — also not a real interpreter — £1,400 to go in his stead. Pretending to be Patang, David interpreted for eight weeks.
Fast forward to later that same year, when Capita caught an error on Patang’s timesheet. The Evening Standard says he “claim[ed] money for more hours than he had actually worked.” Now, for Patang this wasn’t anything new: In November 2012, the fake interpreter invoiced a full day’s work for a case that had been adjourned, his sister forging the trial clerk’s signature. That time, Capita kept working with him anyway. But this time, the company told Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), an executive agency within the UK Ministry of Justice. An investigation began. While reviewing recordings from the Aylesbury trial, police realized the interpreter’s voice was not Patang’s.
It still took until October 2016 for Patang’s contract with Capita to end, according to The Independent. Patang has since pled guilty to eight counts of fraud, three counts of forgery and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud. On Friday, February 12th, the court sentenced him to two years in prison, suspended for two years — as well as 300 hours community service. His pal David also pled guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. His sentence is six months imprisonment – suspended for one year – plus 100 hours work.