Bank Manager Jailed Over Fraud

A crooked bank manager has been jailed for three years after being found guilty of siphoning off tens of thousands of pounds to fund her lifestyle.

Detectives said Lorna Keary, 34, left a "trail of dishonesty and deceit in her professional wake'' after embarking on a complex internal banking fraud.

She created bogus accounts, set up duplicate loans in the names of friends or bank customers and transferred the funds from the loans into other accounts.

By linking customers and friends to the accounts, police said Keary circumvented the normal scoring system and checks put in place by the bank for new accounts.

One customer of the bank was registered blind and was linked to one of the accounts from which Keary siphoned cash while she worked as a commercial bank manager in Tonbridge, Kent.

Through a bank account named "Tailored'', she withdrew £126,950 via cash machines from fictitious accounts over a three-and-a-half- year period, Kent Police said.

A total of £50,000 was credited to Keary's personal accounts and the rest is believed to have been spent on holidays, settling family credit card bills, household bills and fuel for large cars.

Keary, of Lincoln Way, Crowborough, East Sussex, was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court after being convicted in January of fraud, money laundering and false accounting, police said today.

Detective Constable Alec Wood said: "By her actions from a position of trust, Lorna Keary has undermined the confidence of friends and colleagues, and left a trail of dishonesty and deceit in her professional wake.''

Officers said Keary tried to blur the financial trail by switching cash between accounts either by handwritten voucher transaction or by bank computer-based instruction.

One customer she took advantage of had multiple businesses and accounts in different market areas.

Keary shuffled money between the accounts to confuse the audit trail of money leading to her "Tailored'' account.

To maintain repayments on loans, she set interest rates and repayments to zero or to dates far in the future.

Her crimes began to unravel when a bank audit discovered that Keary had self-authorised ever-increasing loans to fund the void in the accounts involved.

Police intervened when she extended one loan to £130,000, way above the £30,000 internal authorisation limit for that particular account holder.

Keary was on holiday when police visited the bank to make inquiries and she was arrested on the Monday morning following her return.

Paperwork linking her to the fraudulent loans was found in the loft of her home when it was searched by officers under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and she was charged in October 2010.

It took two years of investigation by officers because of the complexity of the crimes and the attempts by Keary to cover up her deception, a police spokesman said.

DC Wood said: "`By unravelling her activity, we have been able to bring Keary before the court and today's sentencing has shown that anyone who indulges in this activity because of their greed will be dealt with and punished.''

Confiscation proceedings in connection with her criminal lifestyle have started under the Proceeds of Crime Act.