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Ex-Lloyds’ security chief jailed over £2.4m fraud

Jessica Harper, the ex-head of anti-fraud and security at the UK’s Lloyds Banking Group, has been jailed after pleading guilty to stealing £2.4 million from the group.

Originally arrested late last year after an internal bank investigation that revealed she had forged and authorised fake invoices made out to her personal banking account from 2007 onwards, Harper’s trial at Southwark Crown Court in London was delayed from the spring. The 50-year-old got no mercy from the court, however, when it did sit getting a five and four year concurrent sentence for the cash that she stole to fund her ‘bling’ lifestyle and expensive shopping habits.

The charges concerned one count of fraud by abuse of position, for which a five year sentence was handed down, and a charge of money laundering, for which a concurrent four year was imposed. Harper pleaded guilty to both and has repaid £376,365.52 of the stolen money, with a further £330,000 to come from the sale of property.

The Metropolitan Police officer leading the case, Detective Chief Inspector Robin Cross, of the capital’s fraud squad, added that the police are still seeking further assets for confiscation with a view to obtaining the full outstanding sum.

"This should serve as a warning to any bank employee that the Met will thoroughly investigate such frauds, which rarely remain undiscovered," he said. "Jessica Harper has destroyed her own reputation and the sentence reflects the seriousness of the offence."

By Neil Ainger