Leicestershire woman sentenced for defrauding bank customers

19/07/2013

A building society branch manager from Leicestershire has been sentenced for stealing from customers’ accounts over a number of years, offences described by East Midlands Chief Crown Prosecutor Steve Chappell as 'a serious abuse of her position'.

Celia Zarebska was the manager of the Santander (formerly Alliance and Leicester) in Barrow upon Soar. Between 2004 and 2012 she targeted accounts from which she stole and used a variety of means available to her to cover up her thefts until she was finally caught in 2012.

Following an internal investigation by the bank, Celia Zarebska was arrested. She pleaded guilty to two counts of theft, three counts of fraud and four counts of false accounting at Leicester Crown Court in June and was sentenced today to three years and four months in prison.

Steve Chappell, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East Midlands, said: "Celia Zarebska conducted an eight-year campaign of dishonesty. She stole from and defrauded the customers and the bank, all of whom had placed their trust in her, using her knowledge of the system to try and cover her tracks. She created fake bond certificates and transferred money between accounts and circumvented the banks procedures to make it look as though everything was above board.

"As is often inevitable in these cases, her dishonesty was unmasked and her case was dealt with as an early guilty plea. This is a scheme operated by the CPS, the courts and the defence to identify cases that could result in a guilty plea at the earliest possible stage and before a trial takes place so the case does not have to be prepared for trial. In this case, when Mrs Zarebska was arrested, she admitted what she had done and identified another victim.

"This defendant has committed a serious abuse of her position. She was trusted by her employers and her community to look after their financial interests, but instead she chose to act for her own illegal gain. Although the individuals she stole from have been refunded, it is important that this is not seen as a victimless crime. These offences have affected the local community and particularly those who put their trust in her.

"The CPS has instigated proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act. We will work with the court and financial investigators to identify and secure any assets she has to ensure she does not continue to profit from her crimes."