Portsmouth computer expert 'destroyed' VIP tours business by siphoning off £81,000
A COMPUTER expert ‘destroyed’ his employer’s VIP tours business by siphoning more than £81,000 from accounts - and £32,000 worth of cheques from a charity.
Trusted accounts manager Sohan Basu tried to trick a fraud trial jury with ‘nonsense’ claims he was being set up as his victim was linked to the police and Russians.
But in truth ‘gifted manipulator’ Basu, 52, had spent years setting up bank accounts and false identities to siphon cash from the Prestige Promotions firm.
Owner Clive Thomas put his trust in dad-of-one Basu, of Britannia Road North, Southsea, only to be cheated, threatened and left shattered.
Mr Thomas told Portsmouth Crown Court he was left in a ‘blur of frenzied worry’ and had been diagnosed with PTSD.
He added: ‘I felt under attack and felt he took potshots at me whenever he chose to do so, I never knew when the next attack would occur.’
The court heard he went from being ‘strong and robust, almost fearless’ to feeling ‘close to rock bottom’.
Basu’s crimes spanned between 2015 and 2020, and he even tried to change Mr Thomas’ driving licence address during a Covid isolation hiatus in his trial.
Jailing him for five years, judge David Melville QC said: ‘Your repeated dishonesty is breathtaking not only in its creativity but also in its extent.’
He added: ‘You managed all this with astonishing creativity. You’re a gifted manipulator.’
In April 2018, Mr Thomas met Basu over concerns the accounts were lower than they should have been.
Basu promised to pay back £45,000 - but only paid around £3,000 - and then went on to cash £32,000 in stolen cheques. He removed the counterfoils from the old cheque books he stole to avoid detection.
In one instance Basu siphoned money off to someone named Abrahams. Officers checked with every force in the country but it turned out this was the fraudster.
‘You could run wild on the company computer and company accounts, and you did,’ the judge said.
Addressing Basu, he added: ‘You were employed to keep the business on an even keel. You destroyed it.’
The charity Mr Thomas established, the Kayto Trust, helps underprivileged children in East Africa.
Basu also used Mr Thomas’ credit card and set up direct debits from his account to insure a Renault Scenic.
The court heard Mr Thomas, whose business is registered in Tring, Hertfordshire, had to fund his company using his savings. ‘You’ve caused immeasurable harm to him,’ the judge said.
Basu now faces further court action by police to claw back the cash. He was convicted of four charges of fraud, cleared of one, and convicted of two thefts. He still denies wrongdoing.
Investigating officer Det Con James Lacey said: ‘Sohan Basu held a position of ultimate trust involving access to the bank accounts of the small company at which he worked.
“Instead of upholding his responsibility to safeguard the interests of the company, he exploited and abused this position for his own criminal purpose.’