A council regeneration chief who stole money meant for a computer club for ethnic minorities has been jailed for 12 months for his role in the £150,000 scam.

Nisar Ahmed, 55, of Highcroft Gardens, Golders Green, and his friend, Abu Ahmed, stole money from the non-profit making computer skills club while working for Tower Hamlets Council.

Southwark Crown Court heard that Nisar used his influence to help Abu, 55, of Sheringham Avenue, Oakwood, win public funding for Millennium Advance Technology Training (MATT).

The court heard that MATT was awarded a £150,000 handout, but instead of ploughing the cash into the project, Abu and his wife, Iffet Ahmed, sent the majority of it to Bangladesh to set up a computer school.

They redirected the rest of the cash into their own sales company, Integrated Business Computer Systems Ltd (IBCS).

By the end of 2002, Abu had raised bogus invoices totalling £143,014. Nisar pressurised a regeneration agency to release large amounts of cash by claiming that not enough money was being directed at ethnic minority projects.

Sarah Whitehouse, prosecuting, said: "While going about their daily business, the three defendants were quietly receiving money to which they were not entitled.

"There is no doubt at all that Nisar, who was not involved in the running of MATT or IBCS, received money from those companies and from Abu Ahmed's bank account."

Nisar was jailed for a year after both men were convicted of conspiracy to steal on Friday. Abu, who was also found guilty of six counts of furnishing false information and three of theft, was jailed for 18 months.

The offences took place between December 1999 and February 2003.

Judge Christopher Hardy said: "The degree of dishonesty shown by you over a number years makes it impossible to suspend the custodial sentences I am bound to pass.

"I hope your sentences will act as a warning to others in positions of power or respect in the community who contemplate this type of fraud."

The trio had variously denied seven counts of furnishing false information, four counts of theft, six counts of corruption, and one count of conspiracy to steal.

Mrs Ahmed, 50, also of Sheringham Avenue, was found guilty of one theft and sentenced to an 80-hour community order.

Nisar was cleared on six counts of corruption and of corruption in public office, and his wife, Zubdatul Baqa, 54, was earlier cleared of any wrongdoing during the two-month trial.