Four years for payroll fraudster who hit City firm for nearly £3m

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A FRAUDSTER who stole nearly £3m from a City firm and then frittered away cash on gambling and a Thai bride has been jailed for four years for the “appalling breach of trust”.

Payroll administrator Dennis Harold, 60, swindled Devonshire Appointments between 2007 and 2013 by inventing temporary staff and paying wages into more than 20 bank accounts in false company names.

Harold, who had worked for the London-based recruitment company for 14 years, then squandered an estimated £1.2m on gambling, taxis, an “expensive divorce” and sending money to Thailand where he had a fiancée or wife, the court was told.

His co-defendant, Shamsur Rahman, 38, worked with Harold and discovered the scam in 2008, the Old Bailey was told yesterday. But rather than report it to company bosses, he demanded a cut of the ill-gotten gains and pocketed £1.1m.

After he was made redundant, Rahman, who is originally from Bangladesh, continued asking Harold for money from the fraud, prosecutor James Norman said.

The court heard the married father-of-three was motivated by “pure greed” and used the money to put £300,000 towards a £600,000 house, buy a luxury £54,000 car and jewellery for his wife.

When his home was searched by police, they also found £120,000 in cash stuffed in a rucksack, a bag and a jacket pocket. The £2.9m fraud was finally exposed in 2013 when an audit uncovered a small accounting discrepancy, Mr Norman said.

Harold initially tried to cover it up by presenting auditors with false documents but when that failed, he confessed to his bosses.

At earlier court hearings, Harold, of Dagenham, Essex, admitted fraud by abuse of position and Rahman, of Enfield, north London, pleaded guilty to acquiring criminal property – which he has pledged to pay back.

Sentencing both defendants to four years, Recorder Michael Wood told them it had been “an appalling breach of trust”.