A WOMAN who defrauded a housing association out of almost £200,000 remained defiant in court as she was jailed for two years for the crime.
Sarah Nabbona, of Victoria Road, Southsea, has been sentenced for her part in an elaborate money-laundering operation.
The 29-year-old Ugandan national ripped off Welsh housing association NPT Homes Limited by getting the company to agree to transfer cash into an agreed bank account.
Then, over a short space of time, Nabbona siphoned off £196,161 by systemically making large cash withdrawals into a new bank account which she claimed was for a charity.
However, despite being found guilty of the crime by a jury, Nabbona maintained her innocence, claiming she had been wrongly caught up in the criminal conspiracy.
But sentencing her, Recorder Nicholas Gerasimidis said she had told a ‘variety of lies’ throughout the trial in an effort to evade justice.
He said: ‘You, during the course of your interview, blamed your boyfriend.
‘You said that you had been asked to open an account and that your account should be used by him in connection with a charity.
‘You told the jury you had no idea that that money was illegitimate money and that you were in fact an innocent dupe.
‘You told them a variety of lies which ultimately were not accepted by the jury.’
The judge said the impact on NPT Homes Limited, which has about 9,000 homes in Neath Port Talbot County Borough, had been ‘significant’ and added that Nabbona had known the money had been ‘derived from criminal activity’.
She was jailed for two years for entering into or becoming concerned in a money-laundering operation, and for nine months for converting criminal property. The sentences will run concurrently.
Defending Nabbona, Louise Howard said her client had made significant progress while in custody attempting to turn her life around.
Urging the judge to impose a light sentence, Miss Howard added: ‘This is the first time she has been convicted of any offence.
‘She has, through her evidence, shown that she is an intelligent and educated young woman – she has prospects outside of custody.
‘She maintains her innocence. She does, however, say in a letter how sorry she is that the court and the public have been put through the expense of the trial because of her behaviour and her failure to recognise, as such, that what she was dealing with was criminal property – she is sorry to that extent, at least.’
Miss Howard said Nabbona was ‘likely to be deported’ from the UK upon release.