An aristocrat has been charged with claiming £18,000 in housing and Council Tax benefits while renting out her £1.1m London property to tenants.
Vera-Brigitte Bilek Von Sternberg, born in Vienna, is accused of keeping a bank account secret and stating the tenants were her friends and family.
Vera-Brigitte, of Notting Hill, said she was not guilty when appearing at Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court this week.
She is a freelance arts and performing arts critic and daughter of a former Cultural Attaché to the Middle East. She moved to Chelsea in 1990 with her daughter.
Vera-Brigitte became a head of department at two educational institutions. She is also a member of Chelsea Old Church and has been elected onto the boards of charitable trusts as a fundraiser.
She was bailed to appear at Isleworth Crown Court for a preliminary hearing on 26th May after the court declined jurisdiction due to the severity of the case.
All of the money Vera-Brigitte owed has been returned to the local authority. She is charged with two counts of fraud by false representation.
It is believed that on 17th September 2009 and 13th July 2011, Vera-Brigitte made a false representation in a housing benefit and Council Tax benefit application for Ivy Cottage in West Brompton. She said that she had no bank account. In fact, Vera-Brigitte had a Barclays account.
She is also charged with making a false representation on 4th February 2013 when she claimed for benefits on the same property by informing the council she did not have subtenants, just guests.
Vera-Brigitte claimed to have no income besides Pension Credit and Disability Living Allowance (DLA), however, she had a number of tenants who paid rent between 16th September 2012 and 18th September 2013.
She also faces two counts of dishonesty for failing to notify a change in circumstances; she was renting out two homes on Uverdale Road between 2012-13.
Furthermore, she is charged with dishonesty for failing to inform the council that she had a tenancy agreement with Anchor Trust and had moved out of Ivy Cottage into her current home.