A former member of staff on a council contract with outsourcing firm Capita has been jailed for five years after pleading guilty to a £2 million fraud.

Trishul Shah, 38, was sentenced at Harrow Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday, July 31) after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position.

He was given five years for each offence, with the sentences set to run concurrently.

Mr Shah made 62 fraudulent payments relating to compulsory purchase orders between July 2016 and December 2017, while he was employed on a regional enterprise (Re) contract with Capita.

The Re deal was signed in 2013 and covers a range of services, including environmental health, regeneration and highways.

Capita has underwritten the financial loss to the council - a total of £2,063,972.

Speaking in response to the sentencing, leader of Barnet Council Cllr Richard Cornelius said: “This individual was in a position of trust, where it was his responsibility to manage and safeguard taxpayers’ money.

“He abused his position by conducting fraudulent activity over a sustained period of time for his own personal gain.

“Our Corporate Anti-Fraud Team built a strong and compelling case against Mr Shah, which proved vital in securing the sentencing.

“While you can never have complete protection from someone intent on engaging in criminal activity, we must ensure that robust financial controls are in place.

“Following the discovery of the fraudulent activity, the council and Capita took immediate action to increase financial controls and monitoring of the financial service.”

Cllr Cornelius said the council had commissioned an independent review of financial controls to fully understand how the fraud was possible.

The review’s findings will be presented to the council’s audit committee.

Labour leader Cllr Barry Rawlings commented: “While I am glad that justice has been done, I find it unbelievable that such a fraud could go on so long undetected.

“There needs to be a full, public investigation into why the fraud was not discovered and whether there are enough safety measures in place to stop a similar thing happening again.”