Council staff to receive fraud awareness training in wake of £100k theft

Derry City and Strabane District Council's Assurance, Audit and Risk Committee held their monthly meeting in the Guildhall on Thursday afternoon.
Derry City and Strabane District Council's Assurance, Audit and Risk Committee held their monthly meeting in the Guildhall on Thursday afternoon.

After the theft of almost £100k from Derry City Council (D.C.C.) in 2015, Derry City and Strabane District Council (D.C.S.D.C.) will deliver fraud awareness training to staff.

The announcement was made at the monthly meeting of the Assurance, Audit and Risk Committee in the Guildhall on Thursday afternoon.

Included in the report titled ‘Summary report on the outcome of the attempted external theft of monies (£99k) within the former Derry City Council’ it states that council are “confident that there was no criminal element internally which needed to be dealt with by the P.S.N.I.”

In February 2015 there was an attempt to defraud D.C.C. of a significant sum of money (£99,426.24) through false representation by amendment of a supplier’s bank details.

A company working for the D.C.C. were due this payment for work carried out as part of an ongoing contract. The payment was approved for payment and paid into the suppliers account on February 17. On February 24, the company contacted D.C.C. and explained that they had received the remittance for the payment in question but that they had still not received the payment.

On February 25, after investigation in Finance, it was found that they had recently received notification of a change of bank details purporting to be from the contractor.

The bank details of the company were then changed to those on the letter. When contacted, the company then confirmed verbally that they had not requested their bank details to be changed.

The First Trust Bank were immediately contacted and they commenced an investigation. The Interim Chief Executive was then briefed on the matter and he gave approval for the P.S.N.I. to be contacted and for actions to be taken in compliance with the D.C.C.’s Counter Fraud Policy.

The P.S.N.I. Financial Investigation Unit were then contacted and after an initial investigation confirmed that the bank account in question had been frozen and that an investigation was ongoing in that bank.

On the afternoon of February 25, the First Trust Bank contacted D.C.C. Finance and explained that D.C.C. could get the funds back from the customer if indemnities were provided. On February 26, Legal Services and Finance briefed the Interim Chief Executive and he signed the indemnity. On February 27 the indemnity was delivered to the First Trust Bank.

D.C.C. Finance team monitored the situation on an ongoing basis and liaised with the First Trust Bank until the funds were captured back into D.C.C.’s bank account. It was confirmed by the Financial Accountant that the full £99,426.24 was returned to D.C.C. on April 1, 2015.