Ministry of Justice bod jailed for stealing £1.7m with fake IT consulting contract

He could have nicked £7m if he hadn't been caught

A civil servant who stole £1.7m from the UK's Ministry of Justice through a fake "IT services contract" has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Allan Williams, 37, formerly a manager in the London-based ministry's commercial and financial control department, set up a £7m purchase order for an "IT services contract" with Sopra Business Consulting back in 2017.

Sopra Business Consulting was a fake company set up by Williams himself, Southwark Crown Court was told on Monday. Monthly payments from the fraudulent £7m purchase order went to the fake firm's account and then straight into his own pocket.

Prosecutor Gregor McKinley told Southwark Crown Court, as reported by the Evening Standard: "This was a sophisticated fraud … and would have resulted in further loss to the taxpayer if it had not been discovered."

One of Williams' underlings became suspicious about the payments in July 2019. Despite the crooked manager's assurances that all was well, the junior bod reported him. Police investigators found he had made around £1.4m, with £400,000 in the fake company's account when he was caught.

Using the stolen cash, Williams had bought himself an Audi SQ5, an Audi A3 and a five-bedroom Hampshire house set in 1.1 acres. Previously he and his family had lived in a three-bed semi in Essex.

Her Honour Judge Joanna Korner QC told Williams during sentencing: "You conceived of this plan to make yourself richer… It was both sophisticated and greedy." He was sentenced to three years and six months after pleading guilty to fraud and transferring criminal property.

The MoJ has recovered around £900,000, it told the Standard, and is still chasing down the rest of the stolen cash.

Last year the MoJ cancelled a key part of its £280m Common Platform Programme for overhauling court IT systems. The CPP in turn forms part of its wider £1bn modernisation programme, which has been dogged by accusations the ministry has been closing and flogging off perfectly good courthouses in prime inner-city locations to keep cash flowing for the programme. ®

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