July 8th, 2007 08:14 EST
U.K. Council officer jailed after Met investigation
A former local authority finance officer appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court on 5 July 2007 for a confiscation hearing and was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to ten counts of fraud.
This follows an investigation by the Met's CID officers and Financial Investigation Unit based in Bexley.
Michael Barry of Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent was ordered to pay £93,569 in confiscation, which will all be paid in compensation to Bexley Council.
It was initiated in July 2005 following an allegation by Bexley Council that a member of staff had been committing fraud. The ten counts relate to offences committed between April 1997 and July 2005.
Barry used his position as an accountant within the council to claim numerous VAT refunds from HM Revenue and Customs over a nine-year period. He was responsible for the department handling VAT returns for all schools in the area and listed an extra school that did not exist.
He gave his own bank account number for the VAT refunds based on figures he had invented and amended council records to ensure his fraud was hidden from auditors.
Over a nine-year period, Barry made transfers to his bank account totalling £224,631.93.
Detective Inspector Michael Shelley, said:
"Barry committed a serious breach of trust whilst in an position which should have attracted the highest standards of integrity. Mr Barry's prosecution, and the subsequent confiscation of his assets demonstrates our commitment to preventing offenders enjoying the proceeds of their crimes."