William Eichler 16 October 2018

Council employee convicted of £1m pension fund fraud

A former Westminster City Council employee has been convicted for defrauding the council pension fund of nearly £1m.

Ian Woodall, who was the council’s interim head of pensions and investments for three years, has been found guilty of a charge of fraud by abuse of position and a second charge of concealing criminal property.

Mr Woodall was responsible for the day-to-day oversight of the council’s pension fund, including liaison with the authority’s bankers on payments to be made and investments received.

A discrepancy in the fund for 2010/11 and 2011/12 was identified by internal auditors who were not satisfied that four payments totalling just over £900,000 were legitimate. A full investigation was launched in 2013.

A Westminster council spokesperson said the investigation took a long time because the police had to trace the payments from the council’s pension fund through a number of foreign bank accounts.

‘This was a serious breach of the council’s trust from a senior employee, resulting in a detailed police investigation,’ said the spokesman.

‘This was a significant time ago. Since then we have changed our processes to make them even more robust and kept these under review.

‘The fact we were able to pick this up and successfully prosecute is positive and we will now do all that we can to recoup this money through the courts.’

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