A Napier bank manager who took almost $135,000 from her bank over a five and a half year period has been sentenced to six months' home detention.
Fiona Barber, 51, appeared in the Napier District Court this morning for sentencing after pleading guilty to four counts of directly accessing ANZ bank and dishonestly and without claim of right obtaining a pecuniary advantage.
The Napier woman took $40,802.35 between December 2011 and December 2016, $45,959.84 between November 2012 and May this year, $42,895.08 between August 2013 and February this year and $5,079 between May and July this year.
The total added up to $134,736.27.
This morning her defence lawyer Jonathan Krebs said his client had paid a significant personal cost as a result of the offending and submitted a full-time custodial sentence was not warranted.
He said Barber had acted out of "financial desperation" and the interest that had accrued on the money taken had skyrocketed at an "eye watering rate",
"Unusually in this case, a significant amount of that sum represents interest. What occurred here was a series of loans which were not to have been self-authorised. They had interest rates of between 14 and 16 per cent."
Krebs said the interest was more than $85,000 and asked Judge Tony Adeane to consider a sentence of community detention.
His client had no intention of keeping the funds she had taken, and had now lost her banking career of 32 years; unlikely to ever regain employment in the area, he said.
"Her shame is enormous. She has shunned social occasions and minimised appearing in public at all. She described a form of self-imposed home detention."
The court was told her marital home, owned by herself and her husband who was sitting in the public gallery with other supporters, had been sold and the couple were now left with insufficient equity to enter the property market.
Judge Adeane began his sentence by stating Barber had risen to management in her banking career and used her position to authorise increasing overdraft limits of an account she controlled and make unsecured advances for her own purposes.
There was "no suggestion of extravagances" and it was suggested the money had been used for a number of family medical reasons, he said.
"The first striking feature of the case, apart from the fall from grace, is the fact that all funds obtained in this way have been repaid to the bank."
He accepted the "significant hardship" accredited to her family, but said it did not minimise the underlying dishonesty the defendant was clearly aware of.
He said a starting point of two and a half years' of imprisonment was appropriate, but passed a final sentence of six months' home detention after discounts for early guilty pleas, remorse and reparation had been taken into account.
ANZ spokesman Stefan Herrick said since the offending came to light a review of the banking systems had taken place and security processes had been "stepped up".
"She had a thorough understanding of our processes and systems and abused that responsibility. Once the offending was discovered we acted quickly."
One ANZ customer had been reimbursed the full amount of their loss and the bank had apologised, he said.
"As a staff member Mrs Barber was in a position of trust and betrayed that trust. She let down thousands of other ANZ staff members who work hard to do the best for our customers every day."
When approached Barber declined to comment.