26th May, 2017

Disgraced former Leamington bank boss jailed again

Leamington Editorial 23rd Jan, 2016

A LEAMINGTON bank’s disgraced former business manager set up a system which enabled him to charge the bank for hotel stays even after he had served a prison sentence for fraud.

Warwick Crown Court heard Harvinder Sandhar made 234 bookings worth more than £30,000 through the travel company used by the Royal Bank of Scotland over a five-year period.

The 41 year-old now of Cruikshank Close, Milton Keynes, was jailed for two years and four months after being given credit for his plea of guilty to a charge of fraud.

Prosecutor Amy Jackson said Sandhar had been a business manager at the Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Leamington until 2007 when he resigned during an investigation.

That had eventually led to him being jailed for two years and nine months in 2010 after he had been convicted of defrauding the bank out of £180,000.

By then he had already set up the system he used to commit the current offences, said Miss Jackson, and they continued following his release from prison on licence.

She explained the RBoS use Carlson Wagonlit Travel for its employees to make travel and hotel bookings, with each authorised member of staff having a ‘travel profile.’

But in 2009, following his resignation but before he was jailed, Sandhar took advantage of his knowledge of the system to create a false travel profile in his own name.

Then over a five-year period, with a gap while he was serving his prison sentence, he made a total of 234 hotel bookings worth a total of £30,800 through CWT.

They included stays at the Novotel and other hotels in Birmingham, as well as at others all over the country including London, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Leeds and Durham.

At one point some suspicion was aroused at CWT, and they contacted Sandhar, but he was able to convince them he was still working as an RBoS business manager – and it was only when a check was later made with the bank that it was found he was not.

When Sandhar was then arrested, he claimed he thought he was still entitled to use the system as an ex-employee; but when challenged, he accepted that was nonsense and apologised.

Natasha Bournes, defending, said Sandhar had been married, and there was family pressure for them to stay together despite a worsening in their relationship.

He began staying in hotels to get away from his wife and the situation at home, using the RBoS account to extend stays at hotels he had been legitimately staying in as part of his job at the time with another company.

The marriage came to an end after he was jailed, and following his release in 2011 he began a new relationship.

But asked by Judge Sylvia de Bertodano whether the hotel visits then stopped, Miss Jackson pointed out that they continued throughout the rest of that year and 2012.

The judge observed there was ‘no fall-off’ in 2013 or 2014 either, to which Miss Bournes responded: “He just finds he needs his space.”

Jailing Sandhar, Judge de Bertodano told him: “You were booking hotels both before you were in prison and for several years after your release. It only stopped when the travel company began to realise there was something wrong.”