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Bank worker stole £87k from customer’s accounts
11:10am Saturday 7th September 2013 in News
A BANK worker has been jailed after he siphoned off more than £87,000 from his clients’ accounts to pay for his gambling habit.
Christopher Wathen had a “laughable” plan to win big on Betfair and pay the money back, Worcester Crown Court was told.
And so certain was he of his scheme, he abused his £50,000-a-year position as a client relationship manager with Santander in the bank’s Malvern and Kidderminster branches, Nicolas Cartwright, prosecuting, told the court.
He used a technique known as ‘layering’, forging the signatures of two of his clients – one an 82-year-old woman living in a care home – and making a number of transfers into two external accounts, held with First Direct and Lloyds.
He then transferred the money back into his own Santander account to a total of £87,365 over a period of four months last year.
He also tried to make a one-off transfer of £58,728 from a third client who had met him face to face and regarded him as her financial adviser. This was either stopped automatically because of the amount or he had changed his mind, the court was told.
The offences came to light when the 82-year-old victim’s son discovered the suspicious transfers.
Wathen, of Yarlington Mill, Belmont, Hereford, had previously served in the Army for eight years as a technical storeman with an exemplary record which had earned him a Nato medal for his service, Jonathan Veasey-Pugh, defending, told the court.
The 37-year-old started working for Santander in November 2010. He had become accustomed to living beyond his means and gambled a lot on Betfair.
His aim was to take the money from the clients, win at betting and then put the money back, Mr Veasey-Pugh said.
“It was laughable because the house always wins,” he said. “His intention was ludicrous. It went wrong and he covered loss after loss with further transfers.”
Wathen could not believe he had done it and he was full of remorse for these “terrible crimes”, Mr Veasey-Pugh said.
Recorder Denis Desmond told Wathen it was a gross breach of trust.
“You did not stop on your own. You were caught out,” he said.
“The bank customers trusted you and you betrayed them while working in a senior capacity.
“I can’t imagine why you thought you would win the money back.”
Wathen pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two charges of fraud and one of attempted fraud. He was jailed for two years on each charge to run concurrently.