A COVENTRY bank employee took part in a sophisticated plot to steal money from the accounts of customers who had died by falsely registering an accomplice as the executor.
Ravi Dubede at Barclays Bereavement Services Centre in Coventry stole more than £270,000 from the accounts of two deceased customers.
The money was initially transferred to the accounts of two men, one from West Bromwich and one from Oxford – before numerous money-laundering transactions.
The offences came to light after the genuine executors of the wills contacted Barclays to ask what was going on – and at Warwick Crown Court Dubede and six other men were jailed.
Dubede (32) of Nuffield Road, Foleshill, Coventry, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to two charges of conspiracy to steal.
Troy Phillips (44) of New Street, Hill Top, West Bromwich, and Kyle Wilson (33) of Haldane Road, Blackbird Leys, Oxford, who were falsely put forward as the executors of the two customers’ wills, were both jailed for 21 months.
They, twins Pawel and Lukasz Pyszczek and Mateusz Bazanek had all pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property, while Sanjeev Sharma was found guilty of that charge after a trial.
Sharma (36) who was living in Oxford at the time, but now of West Allotment, Newcastle-on-Tyne, was jailed for 28 months.
Pawel Pyszczek (31) of Cowley Road, Oxford, was jailed for nine months; Lukasz, of the same address, for seven months; and Bazanek (30) who shared the house with them, for six months.
Prosecutor Ben Close said an elderly Barclays customer died in December 2012, having made a will leaving her estate to various charities and relatives, one of whom sent a copy of the death certificate to the bank.
In February the following year Dubede, who worked at the bank’s Bereavement Services Centre on the Westwood Business Park in Coventry, accessed the account to make an authorised repayment to the Department for Work and Pensions.
But he then changed the address on the account to that of Wilson; and in April the bank received a letter containing a false will and a forged grant of probate naming Wilson as sole executor. Some money transfers followed.
The person who had actually been granted probate later contacted the bank to question why she had not received the funds – only to be told the accounts had been closed.
Mr Close said Sharma worked on the same production line at the BMW Mini plant in Cowley as the other Oxford defendants, and was the link between the thieves and the money launderers.
Another Barclays customer, a 90-year-old man, also died in 2012, and in April 2013 Dubede was involved in ‘a legitimate task’ in relation to his pension payments.
But a letter was then sent to Barclays purporting to be from Phillips, providing false documents indicating he was the sole executor of the man’s estate. A similar chain of events followed.
Dubede’s barrister told the court he had taken part in the theft conspiracy out of a desire to help his family in India after they had been threatened.
Two other men said to be involved are in India, to which some documents which came into the bank were scanned.
Grahame Jones, for Sharma, said he still does not accept his guilt, and it was not accepted he had a leading role.
Jailing all seven defendants, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told Dubede: “It is absolutely clear to me this offending crosses the custody threshold by some margin. Public confidence in the banking system will be shaken by events such as this.
“This was a long course of offending targeted against those who were in a state of bereavement; and you Mr Dubede were the person at the very heart of it.”