A MANAGER funded his “lavish lifestyle” and bought Harley-Davidson motorcycles after defrauding his employer out of £690,000 through paying decoy businesses for services and goods, a court heard.
Andrew Saunders is accused of defrauding Bombardier Transportation UK by sending large sums of money to four fake business accounts from his employer’s account and then transferring the funds to his wife Diane Saunders’ accounts.
Jurors at Hove Crown Court were told yesterday that he abused his role of acquiring materials and courier services for a project with railway operator Southern.
Saunders was working for the leading manufacturer of planes and trains in its Brighton branch, while the company worked on a joint project with Southern at depots based in Brighton, Bedford and Selhurst.
Saunders, 52, of Benjamin Gray Drive in Wick, allegedly spent the money gained between August 28, 2008 and April 30, 2013 on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a hot tub and other expensive items.
He created three business accounts in his and his wife’s names to transfer money to and used the account of Ras Limited, which was registered to Roy George, to receive money transferred from Bombardier’s accounts after signing off on “fraudulent purchase orders”, the court heard.
Prosecutor Hugh French said: “Banking evidence shows the enjoyment of the proceeds of criminality.
“He is attempting to conceal the source of this money by circulating it around the business and personal accounts. Large amounts of cash were withdrawn for him to spend money taken from his employer. He was pretending these four businesses were providing a service for Bombardier and fake invoices were generated.”
The court heard that Saunders was siphoning money from his employer into four business accounts, Precision Moulding, registered to his home address, N and T and Sidestand Limited, both registered to Ms Saunders’ home address, and Ras Limited, registered to Mr George.
Software known as React was used by Bombardier to add suppliers to its computer system, allowing them to be paid for goods and services. The system required an approval by two separate employees for outgoing payments below 20,000 Euros and a third approval from a financial controller for a larger amount.
Mr French told jurors that Saunders “took advantage of this system’s weaknesses” to complete both stages of approval himself and create the purchase orders.
Ian Hutchenson, Bombardier’s head of non-product related procurement, told the court he rejected Mr Saunders’ initial request to add N and T as a supplier in October 2010 due to inaccurate company details.
Mr Hutchenson said: “Mr Saunders would have had to set up the request. He had missed out key elements, such as bank details. The purchase order is only made once the approval stage is complete. He later sent back a request having filled out the template correctly.”
Mr Saunders denies committing fraud by intending to make a gain himself or by taking from others. The trial continues.