A Brighton train maintenance manager has been jailed for six years for a £690,000 fraud, having bought a hot tub, Harley-Davidson motorbikes and foreign holidays with his ill-gotten gains.
Andrew Saunders, 52, the manager of Bombardier Transportation UK, at the Freshfield Industrial Estate, in Stevenson Road, Brighton, paid a fortune into his and his then-wife’s bank accounts.
He claimed that work had been done for Bombardier by her and his friend’s companies.
Sussex Police said: “The money was ultimately circulated back to his own joint accounts and he led a lavish lifestyle which included purchase of Harley-Davidsons, a hot tub and holidays in the United States.
“Saunders defrauded Bombardier Transportation UK by authorising the payment of large sums of money to four fake business accounts from his employer’s account and then transferring the funds to his and his then wife’s accounts.”
Judge Paul Tain jailed Saunders at Hove Crown Court yesterday (Monday 23 October) after the fraudster was convicted by a jury on Friday (20 October) after a trial.
He was found guilty of abusing his position at Bombardier which is responsible for the maintenance of all Southern Railway trains across the south east.
A second man, Roy George, 55, of Roderick Avenue North, Peacehaven, pleaded guilty in January to money laundering more than £260,000.00.
George was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and he was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.
Saunders, of Benjamin Grey Drive, Wick, Littlehampton, defrauded Bombardier by authorising the payment of large sums of money to four fake business accounts from his employer’s account and then transferring the funds to his and his then wife’s accounts.
Sussex Police said: “He created various business accounts in his and his then-wife’s name to receive money transferred from Bombardier’s accounts after signing off on fraudulent purchase orders.
“But banking evidence showed the enjoyment of the proceeds of criminality and the concealing of the source of this money by circulating it around the business and personal accounts.
“Large amounts of cash were withdrawn for him to spend the money taken from his employer.
“He pretended these businesses were providing a service for Bombardier and fake invoices were generated.
“The fraud was masterminded by Saunders but he involved George by getting him to set up one of the companies, RAS, for which fake courier journeys for train parts were created.
“George charged these non-existent journeys to Bombardier and Saunders authorised the payments. George then sent 51.4 per cent of the money he received from Bombardier back to Saunders and kept the rest of the money for himself.”
Detective Constable Fleur Jones, of the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit, said: “This was a complex investigation which began when the fraud came to light in 2013 while Saunders was off sick from work and the anomalies in accounting were highlighted by one of his employees.
“There was an internal investigation by the company and the matter was reported to us.
“The two men are friends and George used to supply legitimate courier services to Bombardier Transportation UK through his own company Caddy Couriers.
“Andrew Saunders abused his position of trust as a manager within Bombardier Transportation UK and defrauded the company out of £690,000 over several years.
“He used the money to live well beyond his means and pay for a lavish lifestyle.
In doing so he betrayed the company and his team, who worked under him and who looked up to him for guidance.
“George was drawn into this offending having been motivated by greed. However, he pleaded guilty at an early stage of the court proceedings.
“In sentencing, Judge Paul Tain said he was ‘disquieted’ by Saunders willingness to ‘trash’ everyone including his ex-wife, his company and his employees in an effort to divert blame and absolve himself of the offence while being cross-examined.
“We will be carrying out a further investigation into the assets of both men with a view to seeking court confiscation orders from them under the Proceeds of Crime Act that will return some of their criminal gains to legitimate society.”