Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 14:51 UK

Clerk jailed for 72m bank fraud

Jagmeet Channa
Jagmeet Channa used his colleagues' identities to access the money

A bank clerk who tried to steal almost 72m from the HSBC bank has been jailed for nine years.

Jagmeet Channa, 25, who worked at the firm's headquarters at London's Canary Wharf, used colleagues' identities to plunder accounts.

A court heard Channa sent 90m euros (71,632,807) to two accounts, within minutes, in April this year.

Channa, of Church Road, Ilford, east London, admitted conspiracy to defraud and a charge of money laundering.

Sophisticated enterprise

Sentencing him at Southwark Crown Court Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC said: "This was no silly prank. This was a carefully planned and very serious attempt to transfer a fortune in money away, and it almost succeeded.

"Others were involved, perhaps several others, and in the absence of any explanation from you I must assume this was a planned and sophisticated criminal enterprise."

The court heard how Channa was the inside man in what police described as one of the one of the largest frauds of its kind.

Following the orders of fellow conspirators, and expecting a substantial cut for his "audacious and outrageous" crime, he sent 60m euros (47,970,227) from a trading account to Morocco.

Minutes later he wired 30m euros (23,984,113) to a branch of Barclays in Manchester.

Canary Wharf
Channa worked at HSBC's HQ at Canary Wharf in London

He was eventually found out after forgetting to leave the account he had raided with a zero balance.

The huge debit was discovered by HSBC workers in Malaysia on a Sunday who alerted their colleagues in London sparking an immediate investigation.

Two of Channa's colleagues, whose passwords were used to carry out and approve the transactions, were initially questioned but soon declared innocent.

A review of security cameras and other inquiries led officials to Channa.

Meanwhile both Barclays and the bank in Casablanca had been contacted, the account frozen and the stolen money returned.

After sentencing Det Sgt Martin Peters said: "This crime is believed to be one of the largest frauds of its kind and it is thanks to the prompt response of the police and the banks that the money was recovered."

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