Huddersfield bank official cheated HBOS out of £1.5m

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A former bank official who helped swindle HBOS out of £1.5m is today starting a 42-month prison sentence after his extravagant lifestyle led to hid downfall when it raised suspicions among his colleagues.

During a long career with the business Barrie Goldthorpe worked his way up to the post of Group Technology Service Manager with a salary of almost £45,000, but he abused his position of trust to pocket money using bogus or inflated invoices for computer services and equipment.

The scam came to light in late 2008 and a complex police inquiry lasting five years ended today with the jailing of 56-year-old Goldthorpe and four other men.

His tearful wife Jane, 45, was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, for her limited role in laundering some of the stolen money.

She will also have to perform 150 hours unpaid work for the community

Judge John Potter said some of sums obtained from the bank between 2003 and 2008 were diverted through a ‘’slush fund’’ which was used to pay for holidays for the former Halifax couple.

‘’One to Jersey and a far more extravagant affair was a private jet used to take them and their family together with Steven Shaw and his family to a villa in the south of France where they had a holiday,” said prosecutor Michael Greenhalgh.

The court heard that money was also spent on lavish meals, electronic goods such as cameras and personal computers, and Goldthorpe and Shaw also obtained the use of a corporate box at Leeds United’s ground.

The couple, who now live at Hill Top Avenue, Ainley Top, Huddersfield, were sentenced today alongside Steven Shaw, 60, of Higher Brockwell, Sowerby Bridge and Michael Sharkey, 58, from Scotland.

Barrie Goldthorpe, Shaw and Sharkey all pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud.

Goldthorpe was jailed after the court heard he had received payments totalling almost £540,000.

Shaw, who benefitted to the tune of just over £70,000, was jailed for 15 months while Sharkey, who received about £30,000 and was described as a ‘’key facilitator”, was locked up for two years.

Sharkey’s 52-year-old brother Peter, also from Scotland, who admitted laundering some of the proceeds, was jailed 19 months while Paul Ashton, 49, of St Anne’s Green, Leeds, was sentenced to a year in prison for money laundering.

Judge John Potter said it had been a professionally planned conspiracy which had realised large sums of money over a number of years.

During the hearing at Bradford Crown Court he described Barrie Goldthorpe as being driven by and riddled with dishonesty and greed on a ‘’breathtaking’’ scale.

‘’As soon as you were aware of the existence of the slush fund you wished to milk it for as much as you could with a view to living an extravagant and lavish lifestyle and so you did over a number of years living way beyond your means,’’ the judge told him.

The judge said Goldthorpe had also exerted control over his wife and concealed from her how their extravagant lifestyle was being funded.

Mr Greenhalgh said Goldthorpe and Michael Sharkey, who was employed by a company which obtained computer hardware and maintenance engineers for HBOS, were in regular contact over contracts and they agreed the plan to defraud the bank using inflated or bogus invoices.

Goldthorpe was so trusted by the bank that whatever payments he authorised would not be checked.

Mr Greenhalgh said the fraud came to light because Goldthorpe’s colleagues reported his extravagant lifestyle, prompting a bank investigation and there was a change of management at Sharkey’s firm which uncovered the “slush fund account”.

The investigation revealed 27 suspicious transactions with invoices totalling £1,591,383.56.

Goldthorpe’s barrister Rodney Ferm said he had previously led a blameless life as a family man but he would now have to pay for his crimes.

He said it was apparent that the couple now had nothing left despite the amounts of money that had passed through their hands and although they had enjoyed the fruits it had left a bitter taste.

‘’He made his own decisions,. He blames no-one else,’’ said Mr Ferm.

‘’He was in a position of significant trust and this was a serious breach and it was carried out over the period the court has heard about.’’