Mum took £60k from employer
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.