Audit, Inspection and Safety

28.01.19

‘Appalling’ Westminster Council’s former pension boss given seven-year sentence for £1m fraud

The former head of Westminster Council’s pension fund has been jailed for seven years after stealing more than £1m from the authority.

Ian Woodall was sentenced to seven years in jail for “appalling conduct” in raiding Westminster Council’s pension fund between 2010 and 2012 after being found guilty of fraud and money laundering at Southwark Crown Court.

Woodall worked at the council as an interim chief investment officer and was also employed as a contractor through his own firm, “occupying a period of trust” between January 2009 and December 2012 according to Judge Stephen Robbins – as reported by the BBC.

The court heard how Woodall used his senior position at the council to move money from the pension fund to bank accounts in Switzerland and the Seychelles guised as investments, using the stolen money to buy a new house, a car, and pay off his tax bills.

Woodall stopped working for the London council at the end of 2010, and in 2013 an accountancy firm noticed the discrepancies within the pension fund.

Judge Robbins said there was “persistent abuse of that trust” by Woodall in order to misappropriate £1.05m in funds, who then “went to great lengths to sort the money away in Swiss and other bank accounts.”

“This was persistent abuse of that position of trust that you were occupying as financial officer in charge of Westminster Council's pension fund.”

The case had been delayed multiple times due to the defendant’s numerous health conditions, including a brain disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and amnesia.

Woodall denied fraud by abuse of position. His barrister David Kitson said Woodall cannot remember what had happened during his time at the council.

But in sentencing the former council officer for seven years, Judge Robbins described his conduct as “appalling” and criticised his dishonesty.

Following the decision, Det Sgt Andrew Bailey from Scotland Yard’s fraud squad said they were continuing work to recover the stolen money.

He added: “Woodall betrayed his colleagues and employers by stealing their money to fund his own lifestyle and we are pleased he is now being made to pay for his criminal actions.”

Image - Met Police

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