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Oct 23, 2017

Former Bombardier manager sent to jail for defrauding company to fund lavish lifestyle

Bombardier CS300 aircraft

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SUSSEX, U.K. — A former manager of Bombardier Inc.'s (BBDb.TO) railway division in Britain was sentenced Monday to six years in prison for defrauding the firm of about US$1.15 million which he used to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Andrew Saunders, 52, was sentenced several days after being found guilty of fraud by abuse of position.

He was ordered to serve at least half the sentence behind bars.

Co-defendant Roy George, 55, who operated a courier service, pleaded guilty in January to money laundering. He received a two-year suspended sentence on Monday and was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

Bombardier Transportation U.K. is responsible for maintenance of all Southern Railway trains across the South East of Britain.

The company says it spent more than US$1 million and internal staff time on the case. A British prosecutor service application to recover some or all of the money taken by Saunders will be heard in April, Bombardier said.

"Bombardier has conducted a thorough internal investigation and has not identified any further wrongdoing in connection with this case," the company said in an email.

"All allegations of fraud or other wrongdoing are taken extremely seriously by Bombardier and are fully investigated and will be reported to the police when appropriate."

Sussex police say Saunders, who was manager of Bombardier's Brighton site, manipulated the payment system and paid money between August 28, 2008 and April 30, 2013 to four fake business accounts.

He issued fake invoices after claiming the work was done for Bombardier by his ex-wife and his friend's companies. However, the funds were transferred to his own joint accounts, which were used to purchase Harley-Davidsons, a hot tub and skiing holidays in the United States.

Bombardier called the police after they discovered the fraud when Saunders was off sick from work.

The judge said in sentencing that he was "disquieted" by Saunders' willingness to "trash" everyone including his ex-wife, his company and his employees in an effort to divert blame.

"You were prepared to cast against anybody," said Judge Paul Tain, according to a summary of court transcripts.
Tain said the case was glaringly obvious that he was surprised Saunders pleaded not guilty.

"I suppose you must have been hoping the jury would be bamboozled by complex figures and diagrams."