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Haberdashers’ Aske’s schools trust loses £2m in 'sophisticated' fraud by employee

The educational trust that runs three schools in south-east London lost the money over the space of two years

An educational trust that runs three academies in south-east London was the victim of a £2 million fraud, it has been revealed.

The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation Trust, which has schools in New Cross, Bromley and Crayford, was the target of a "sophisticated" fraud that lasted over several years and saw the perpetrator take money by making a number small transactions during that time period.

The fraud was first discovered in October 2012 when an end of year financial statement stated that nearly £2 million had been lost due to "unauthorised transfers" during 2011 and 2012.

According to the report, £1,047,788 had been taken away in 2011 with a further £924,316 lost in 2012.

Following the discovery, the Trust contacted both the police and the Department for Education.

A member of staff working for the Trust’s schools, which include Hatcham College, in New Cross; Knights Academy, in Bromley and the Crayford Academy, in Crayford, was then suspended and after an investigation dismissed.

A successful civil case was launched against the employee and the Haberdashers' Aske's Federation Trust is now trying to retrieve its lost assets.

The 55-year-old man who was arrested in 2012 is currently on bail and enquiries are ongoing, Scotland Yard said.

In a statement, the federation said: "It appears that the fraud was extremely sophisticated and involved the theft of a substantial amount of money effected through a large number of transactions processed over seven years, and involved one individual staff member in a position of trust acting alone."