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NHS finance manager avoids jail over bank cash

A senior NHS manager who wrongly harboured more than £146,000 of public money in bank accounts he controlled has avoided jail.

Sajid Khan, who used to work as an assistant finance manager with Bradford and Airedale Primary Care Trust, previously admitted retaining the money in bank accounts belonging to members of his family, including his grandmother, Bradford Crown Court heard.

The 34-year-old held £146,143 of NHS money between September 2005 and February 2011 without declaring or repaying the funds.

The money was used to make payments on a leased car, transferred into other accounts or withdrawn in cash soon after being received.

It is unclear how the money ended up in the accounts.

Khan, a father-of-two of Walmer Villas, Bradford, pleaded guilty to dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit in January.

Since then he and his family have paid back all the money to the PCT.

Judge Colin Burn gave Khan a one-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered him to do 250 hours of unpaid work. Khan was also ordered to pay £25,000 in court costs at a rate of £2,000 a month.

The judge said: “This isn’t a situation whereby money which should be used for treatment for the general care of the people of Bradford has been lost.

“It seems to me that you fall to be dealt with ultimately not for the PCT being out of pocket, not for the prosecution being out of pocket, but rather for your dishonest conduct towards a public institution.”

The investigation began in June 2008 when a PCT finance officer found an undelivered email in his account that requested a redundancy payment of £54,600 to a bank account in the name of “C Allerton”.

No one with that name worked for the PCT and the finance officer had not written or attempted to send the email.

After enquiries it was discovered that the holder of this account was Khan’s brother and similar transactions had been made.

When police arrested Khan in February 2010 he had 30 bank cards for accounts belonging to members of his family.

His home was searched and bank statements were found relating to the accounts where payments had been made.

Khan pleaded guilty to the charge of retaining a wrongful credit as soon as it was entered on the indictment.

In total, 26 payments were made into Khan’s accounts.

Readers' comments (12)

  • Can I hold trust/PCT monies in my bank account accrue the meagre interest and avoid being labelled a thief????

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  • The money was not 'lost'....they just didn't know where it was ! (after George & Mildred)

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  • Obviously the Judge will have full access to the facts. Nevertheless, it seems the £146K would not have been returned to the NHS had the scheme not been uncovered, i.e. the intent was to permanently defraud.
    This seems incredibly lenient when lesser mortals than finance ADs do porridge for crimes worth fractions of this amount.

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  • I too find the judge far too lenient; the sentence certainly sends out the wrong message. This was blatant fraud and obviously well thought out; not a matter of the moment. Whether money was actually lost or not should not be an issue, the intention was there and other family members were obviously involved; what has happened to them? I agree with anonymous at 2.54.

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  • Agreed - this sends the message that you can do the crime, and in the unlikely event that anyone in NHS internal audit ever spots it, you wont do the time

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  • If you do the crime then you should do the time
    Incredibly lenient

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  • How does this compare with the recent bribery case where a public official had a 6 year prison case for sums far smaller than this. It is a very poor sentence for such a serious crime.

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  • It's absolutely shocking that the sentence was so lenient. This man was in a position of trust and a significant number of his family members appeared to be in collusion. The facts appear to be that he stole over £146k. If this isn't a major crime; what is? Some Croydon rioters went to prison for much less; what on earth is wrong with our legal system.

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  • I'm going to stick my head above the parapet and say that I'm pleased that this man wasn't sent to prison. Simply put, I'm glad that we don't collectively have to pay out for his upkeep for the next few months, and that he is instead obliged to give up his time for the benefit of society.

    For certain crimes - particularly those where there is a danger to the public and/or a high chance of repeat offending - I can see there might be an argument for imprisonment.

    In this case the chances of recidivism are remote; the gentleman is in future unlikely to be entrusted with any amount of money larger than a milk fund.

    I think the man's crime was deplorable, and I agree that he should be punished. Is it not a good thing that the punishment takes a form which benefits society, rather than costing it money?

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  • Where were the counter fraud measures and other control mechanisms during this 6 year spell? Suggests to me that there may have also been negligence within the PCT here - that doesn't defend Mr Khan though, who clearly deserves a prison stretch for a crime of this magnitude.

    [p.s. wonder if we'll see a glut of bank robbers chaning careers into public sector admin, as clearly the risks are much lower!]

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  • Apologies for my dull post. The sentence actually says "wrongful credit" which means he didn't notify the PCT that he had received these monies, it doesn't mean he transferred them himself. The legal argument hinges on intent to fraud. The 1968 Theft Act allows for mitigation due to repayment. Since he did not meet the criteria under Section 15A (obtaining the money by deception), there's no prison time. This may sound technical but to my rather old LLB brain it sounds like the PCT accidentally vired funds into his personal bank account, which he then moved into those belonging to relatives and used for purposes you could tenuously link to work e.g. the leased car. He should've notified his employers of the incorrect transfer but when the issue was raised, confessed and paid it back. I'm intrigued by the amount as it sounds as if e.g. he was paid ten times his monthly salary each month, or something similar.

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  • I would say this is the tip of the iceberg, and yes he did take advantage of loose systems, but flushing this money through all those accounts would suggest he is probably doing something on an international scale as yet undiscovered. He should have a severe sentence. A rioter got several months for taking a bottle of water.

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