AN ex-bank manager has been ordered to repay £73,000 after being convicted of stealing from customer accounts.
Sarah Gibbs, 33, of Ontario Gardens, Durrington, was given a Confiscation Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) for £73,120 at Brighton Crown Court on Thursday.
Gibbs stole from customer accounts and attempted to cover her tracks by falsifying internal bank records and transferring monies from branch internal accounts.
She had been working for HSBC since 1999, including as a branch manager for at several branches in Sussex from April 2005 until April 2011. Irregularities in branch banking records at Goring-by-Sea, Shoreham-by-Sea and Hove were spotted by an HSBC internal audit, which was prompted after a HSBC customer enquired about the status of investments allegedly made by Gibbs on their behalf back in 2011. It transpired that the monies had not been invested but had been taken by Gibbs and used for her own benefit. Among those customers whose accounts were accessed by Gibbs were several elderly people and even her own friends.
Brighton detectives, assisted by expert financial investigators from the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit, followed up information provided by the HSBC Bank Fraud Investigations Team. The investigators analysed the transactions on more than 50 bank accounts operated by Gibbs and her husband through which funds had been laundered.
Monies were mixed with modest legitimate earnings to fund a variety of activities including £15,000 in deposits for new cars, £3,500 deposit for a wedding and £35,000 for the care and stabling of a pony.
Gibbs was charged in August 2012 with false accounting and theft by employee to the value of £275,400.81.
She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment in May 2014.
A financial investigation found that she had benefited from her criminal conduct by £281,836.03 and that her available assets amounted to £73,120, which were ordered to be confiscated and paid over to the court within six months.
Gibbs will face a further 12 months imprisonment if she does not pay.
HSBC has already reimbursed any losses to their account holders, including any lost interest. In civil proceedings they have recouped her staff pension.
Detective Inspector Gill Sole of the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit said: “Whenever someone has profited from their crime we will pursue them to recover those proceeds, firstly to ensure that victims are compensated, and secondly to ensure that the criminal will not continue to enjoy the benefit of their criminality.”