'Pure greed': Top executive at Accord Group jailed for £325,000 fraud to fund Subway sandwich franchise
The deputy chief executive of Accord Group was jailed today for conning his own organisation out of £325,000 to buy a chain of Subway sandwich bars.
Lakhbir Jaspal, who earned £147,000 a year at West Bromwich-based not-for-profit Accord and lived in a £1m home, submitted invoices from a bogus firm he created just to steal from the group.
Police say Jaspal, aged 47, put in six bills to Accord, including one for £97,980, from a mystery company called Serus, which he bought the naming rights to for just a few hundred pounds online.
Accord became suspicious when two invoices were submitted in May this year for £67,680. Jaspal was confronted and admitted what he had done.
He was arrested in August, and told police he needed to fund residential care for his mother and was in 'constant worry' over meeting the bills.
But detectives found that the care was paid for by the NHS, and his family had spent £13,000 on jewellery in two months.
Jaspal went on to admit using the cash to buy franchises in Subway and was jailed for three years today at Birmingham Crown Court after admitting eight charges of fraud by abuse of position.
Accord gets Government grants to build affordable homes for low-income families and vulnerable people.
It says it's one of the largest housing and social care organisations in the Midlands, providing 13,000 homes and health and social care to 80,000 people and employing nearly 5,000 people.
It has offices in Rowley Regis, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.
A spokesman said: "We were shocked and disappointed with the actions of this one individual within our company who abused his position to steal. This was an isolated incident and we have a zero tolerance policy against any such crimes. We have a legal agreement in place to recover the money and all costs, and we would like to reassure our staff and customers that it is business as usual for the Group.
"We would particularly wish to thank the Police, especially the lead officer, DC Delaney. They have worked tirelessly to bring the investigation to court in a speedy and highly professional way and they have done an excellent job in securing this conviction."
His first Subway franchise was bought on Coventry's Arena Park in December 2012 for £245,000. He handed over a cheque for £97,000 on April 1 this year for a second in Radford, Coventry, and was trying to get a third on the city's Gallagher Retail Park.
Dc Mark Delaney, of West Midlands Police, said: "It is a classic case of pure greed: not satisfied with a £147,000 a year salary he spotted an opportunity to defraud the company - one that is part funded by the taxpayer - to line his own pockets.
"Jaspal hid the Serus invoices in a 'new initiatives' account; he was the principal budget holder with responsibility for monitoring and authorising expenditure.
"He is a qualified accountant and abused his accountancy skills and his senior position to hide the fictitious invoices in Accords' account figures.
"It's particularly distasteful he tried claiming he needed the money to pay for his mother's end-of-life care - but our enquiries showed she was admitted to a home in December 2013, more than 12 months after his last successful fraudulent invoice."
"Jaspal admitted the fraud and has agreed to pay all the money back plus a substantial amount towards Accord's legal costs.
"But this sentence shows the courts take a dim view of trust abuses like this and that offenders can expect to be jailed."