Mum took £60k from em­ployer

South Wales Echo - - News - LIZ DAY Re­porter [email protected]­

A MUM-OF-TWO work­ing in a trusted po­si­tion as ex­ec­u­tive man­ager at a phar­macy in Cardiff took more than £60,000 from her em­ployer over two years.

Maria An­drade stole per­fume and sold it on eBay, ma­nip­u­lated the pay­roll, ob­tained a £10,000 loan she claimed her boss had au­tho­rised, and sent thou­sands to her brother in Por­tu­gal.

Speak­ing at New­port Crown Court, prose­cu­tor Nigel Fryer said she was em­ployed in a “prom­i­nent po­si­tion”.

The court heard she started work­ing for busi­ness­man and phar­ma­cist Raj Ag­gar­wal at Cen­tral Phar­macy in May 2012. Pros­e­cu­tors said she was ex­ec­u­tive man­ager and per­sonal as­sis­tant re­spon­si­ble for deal­ing with fi­nan­cial mat­ters and also car­ry­ing out per­sonal work for her boss.

Mr Fryer de­scribed her role as widerang­ing and told the court she was in a po­si­tion of “ex­ten­sive trust”. He added: “This was a gross abuse of trust over quite a pe­riod of time.”

The court heard An­drade caused a to­tal loss of £62,860.36 to Mr Ag­gar­wal be­tween Jan­uary 2015 and Novem­ber 2016. He ran an on­line busi­ness spe­cial­is­ing in beauty prod­ucts and mat­ters came to light when a bot­tle of per­fume was re­turned.

Pros­e­cu­tors said the de­fen­dant stole 127 Chanel prod­ucts worth £7,620 and sold them on eBay. The court heard there was “quite a de­gree of con­fu­sion” when a cus­tomer who bought from the de­fen­dant re­turned the prod­uct to the le­git­i­mate busi­ness.

Mr Fryer said there was an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the eBay ac­count was traced back to An­drade.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors dis­cov­ered she had been ma­nip­u­lat­ing the pay­roll by in­clud­ing the de­tails of ex-em­ploy­ees who were no longer due to be paid. The prose­cu­tor said: “The money went straight to her bank ac­count.”

One col­league de­scribed her be­hav­iour as “se­cre­tive” and “eva­sive” when deal­ing with fig­ures. The court heard she ob­tained just un­der £38,000 that way, plus £10,000 by falsely claim­ing Mr Ag­gar­wal had agreed to give her a loan.

Pros­e­cu­tors said he had pre­vi­ously helped out staff mem­bers in that way and would have helped An­drade “in any way he could” if he had known she was hav­ing fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties.

Mr Fryer said the “loan” only came to light dur­ing the in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion when Mr Ag­gar­wal con­firmed he had never au­tho­rised the trans­ac­tion.

The court heard she also sent 10,000 eu­ros, or £7,432.18, abroad, stat­ing it was for tax in Ger­many.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found the money was paid into a bank ac­count in Por­tu­gal which be­longed to a con­struc­tion com­pany owned by her brother.

An­drade had a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing and was dis­missed for gross mis­con­duct. The court heard she did re­pay the £10,000 “loan”.

Mr Fryer said: “Given the large sums of money in­volved Mr Ag­gar­wal felt he had no op­tion but to in­volve the po­lice.”

The de­fen­dant was in­ter­viewed in De­cem­ber 2016 and ad­mit­ted steal­ing prod­ucts and sell­ing them on eBay as well as tak­ing the loan with­out con­sent.

She also ad­mit­ted send­ing money to her brother, say­ing he had “fallen on hard times” and she wanted to help him.

Mr Fryer said: “This was sus­tained and re­peated fraud with a con­sid­er­able im­pact on Mr Ag­gar­wal.”

The prose­cu­tor said: “It has knocked his con­fi­dence to find that some­one so close to him, some­one he put full trust and con­fi­dence in, could have be­haved this way be­hind his back.”

An­drade, 43, from En­bourne Drive in Pont­pren­nau, Cardiff, ad­mit­ted theft by em­ployee and three counts of fraud.

An­drade was given a two-year prison sen­tence, sus­pended for two years, and or­dered to carry out 300 hours of un­paid work plus six ses­sions of a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ac­tiv­ity.

Maria An­drade

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