NZ temp stole almost $50,000 from UK bank

A New Zealander earning 400 Pounds ($1100) a week as a temp in one of Europe's largest merchant banks escaped jail yesterday after using the bankers' own lax accounting methods to steal more than 17,000 Pounds from their petty cash.

Nicola Fielding used her position as a temporary secretary in the Italian sales team of JP Morgan to steal the cash that was entrusted to her, the BBC reported.

She wept as she was given a 51-week suspended sentence at London's Old Bailey courts and branded a "disgrace" by a judge.

The court was told bankers on trips abroad were given 500 euros ($932) in cash for petty expenses and any unspent money would be returned to the pretty, petite 26-year-old and recycled to fund further trips.

"When euros were returned to her, rather than putting them back she had taken them herself to a bureau de change in Oxford Circus and approximately twice a month put the money into her own account," the prosecution said.

She then used the money to fund her OE with her boyfriend, jetting off to New York, Turkey, Scotland, Ireland, Holland and other short European breaks and pay off credit card debts.

When the bank realised the money was missing and began an investigation, she confessed.

Judge Peter Beaumont told Fielding she had only escaped jail because she admitted her wrongdoing at the first opportunity.

He imposed a prison sentence of 51 weeks, suspended for two years, ordered that she do 100 hours unpaid work in the community and repay Goldman Sachs 2500 Pounds during the next six months before her work visa expires.

As Fielding -- who gave an address in Shepherds Bush, west London -- was led from the dock, she burst into tears.

The court earlier heard that she was well-educated and came from a stable family background.

Her barrister Sarah Clark said the theft did not begin out of greed but because of the financial problems she and her boyfriend were experiencing.

- NZPA

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