Tayside and Central Scotland

Former employee jailed for £1m Dundee council fraud

Mark Conway / High Court in Glasgow
Image caption The High Court in Glasgow was told Conway was "ashamed and embarrassed" by his actions

A former Dundee City Council IT officer who stole more than £1m from the authority has been jailed for five years and four months.

Mark Conway, 52, stole the money over almost seven years after running up debts on gambling websites.

A judge at the High Court in Glasgow told Conway he had committed a "serious breach of trust."

Conway, of Brechin, admitted defrauding the council of £1,065,085 between August 2009 and May last year.

Dundee City Council said that following the discovery of Conway's crime, it had "taken action to prevent a fraud of this type from happening again in the future".

A previous hearing was told that only £7,337 of the money had been recovered.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Dundee City Council said it had taken action to prevent a similar fraud in the future

The court was told that Conway has now signed over most of his pension and lump sum, amounting to £258,966, to the council.

His home, which has £49,000 equity, will be sold and the money will go to the local authority.

Prosecutor Rosemary Guinnane said that Conway had been the council's top financial IT expert and had "unrestricted access" to their computer systems.

He had exploited a loophole to send money to his own account while pretending it was going to genuine suppliers.

Defence counsel Gavin Anderson said: "Initially he tried to pay off his gambling debts by legitimate means and remortgage his home twice.

"His aim was always to pay back the money with his gambling winnings, but that never happened.

"He would occasionally win a few thousand pounds, but then gambled it away."

'Ashamed and embarrassed'

Mr Anderson said Conway was "ashamed and embarrassed by the whole matter".

He said: "He has lost his career, his home, most of his pension and many of his friends.

"For some years Dundee City Council was unaware of what was happening.

"Each year Mr Conway expected the end-of-year audit would uncover what he was doing."

Judge Graeme Buchanan told Conway: "I accept it was your addiction to gambling that led to the commission of this crime.

"However, that is no excuse for what you did."

A Dundee City Council spokesman said: "We acknowledge the sentence that has been passed by the court today on a former employee of the local authority.

"Following the discovery of this crime, Dundee City Council has taken action to prevent a fraud of this type from happening again in the future.

"An independent review of procedures has already gone ahead and measures have been put in place to strengthen controls.

"Dundee City Council is involved in ongoing efforts to ensure that the funds taken from the authority by this individual are recovered."