New fraud under investigation at Barnet Council after payment anomalies discovered by auditors

Hendon Town Hall. Picture: Matt Brown/Flickr/Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Hendon Town Hall. Picture: Matt Brown/Flickr/Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0) - Credit: Archant

Less than two years after council worker Trishul Shah was jailed for committing a £2m fraud against Barnet Council, police and Barnet’s internal authorities are investigating another possible fraud.

The town hall's internal audit team found fraudulent payments had been made into seven bank accounts after reviewing council's transactions. These were "already known to the council's corporate anti-fraud team as part of an ongoing fraud investigation", according to the council's own internal audit quarter two progress report. Shah - who worked for outsourcing firm Capita - made 62 fraudulent payments into his own bank account before he was discovered and he was eventually jailed for five years in July 2018. He had pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position. In the aftermath, Barnet commissioned a review of its financial controls by accountants Grant Thornton and put in place a range of measures designed to shore up its defences against fraud. At a meeting of the audit committee on Wednesday (October 30), Clair Green, the council's director of assurance, said she was unable to provide more information on the current case because it is subject to an ongoing criminal investigation. She added: "We have briefed the chairman and vice-chairman, and when the time is right and the matter is in the public domain, we will brief the rest of the committee." Cllr Alison Moore (Lab, East Finchley) said: "The Grant Thornton report was on a fraud that was a very significant amount of money. "The current case you are looking at - could you give assurance we are not looking at something of the same quantum?" Ms Green confirmed the current investigation involved a much smaller amount of money than the £2 million fraud by Mr Shah.