A man who defrauded a pension fund for over £1m has been sentenced to jail.

Ian Robert Woodall, 47, of Mickleham in Dorset was found guilty of fraud and money laundering following a ten-day trial at Southwark Crown Court.

He has now been jailed for seven years at the same court.

During the trial, the court heard how between January 2009 and December 2012 Woodall had defrauded the pension fund of Westminster City Council (WCC).

Woodall had held the appointment of Interim Chief Investment Officer (ICIO) for WCC and had effectively been in employment with the council since 2003 in various positions.

He was employed as a contractor through his own firm Lonkal Consulting Limited and therefore not an employee of WCC, but through various contracts he had been the ICIO for several years.

In 2010, the council decided to directly employ a permanent pension fund manager and the role was externally advertised. As a result Woodall ceased working for the council around October – November of 2010.

In 2013, an accountancy firm which had audit responsibility for WCC was made aware of significant discrepancies within the staff pension fund. They found that approximately one million pounds had been unlawfully removed from the fund.

Senior auditors conducted an investigation into that allegation and this identified four suspicious transactions for which no records, authorities or information could be found, namely:

a) 16 Apr 2010, transfer of Swiss Francs (CHF) 60,386.38 (GBP £36,949.56)
b) 12 Aug 2010, transfer of GBP £124,500.00
c) 17 Aug 2010, transfer of GBP £22,391.87
d) 27 Sep 2010, transfer of GBP £741,000.00

As part of that initial review, in December 2013, the auditors conducted an initial fact finding interview with Woodall; however he was unable to provide any specific detail into the transactions.

The council then decided to report the matter to the Metropolitan Police for further investigation.

The Met’s Fraud Squad, attached to the Organised Crime Command, immediately began an investigation and found that Woodall had abused his position to steal approximately one million pounds.

The pension funds were diverted through Swiss bank accounts and then back into the UK, where the money was distributed to both his personal and company bank accounts.

Woodall then used this stolen money to fund the purchase of his house, cars and to support his lifestyle.

As a result of the investigation, he was subsequently requisitioned to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 22, February 2017.

Detective Sergeant Andrew Bailey of the Met’s Fraud Squad, said: “Woodall betrayed his colleagues and employers by stealing their money to fund his own lifestyle and we are pleased he is now being made to pay for his criminal actions.

“Work remains ongoing to recover the stolen money and we hope this sentence shows we are determined to find and punish those engaged in fraudulent activities.”