Daily Record: Council boss who embezzled over £122,000 jailed for a year

Announcement Date: 9th December 2013

JOHN Warne, former finance team leader at Edinburgh City Council, blew cash on classic cars and mortgage payments on buy-to-let properties.

GREEDY council boss who led a team returning VAT charges to homeowners has been jailed for a year for embezzling more than £122,000 of the cash.

The 55-year-old’s crime came to light as part of a police probe into VAT-related fraud in Edinburgh City Council’s housing repairs system.

Before 1998, the authority had mistakenly charged VAT on repair bills for homeowners. Senior manager Warne was part of a team set up to recoup cash from HMRC and return it to the owners.

But a court heard he plundered £122,925 for his own benefit between July 2008 and May 2010.

Edinburgh’s statutory notice system, which involved the council appointing external contractors to repair properties, had already been at the centre of a corruption probe.

An investigation of the property conservation and property care departments uncovered conflicts of interest, gifts to staff and work carried out cheaply on council officials’ homes.

More than a dozen staff were suspended or sacked and police charged a number of people.

Warne, of Longniddry, East Lothian, was prosecuted after a separate investigation into the ­VAT-related fraud.

The former team leader in the finance section, who had taken early retirement before his offences were uncovered, also spent cash on house improvements and holidays for relatives. He had to sell his family home to help repay the money.

Warne, who admitted the charge, was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday.

Sheriff Frank Crowe said: “A breach of trust of this magnitude can, in my view, only be met by a prison sentence.”

The council did not want to comment.

To read the article in the Daily Record, click here.