'Desperate' shopkeeper jailed for £93k bank deposit fraud

A BUSINESSMAN who conned a bank out of £93,000 has been jailed for a year.

Sri Lanka-born Senthuran Gopalakrishnan, 30, was the manager of two failing Costcutter franchise cornershops in Midlothian.

He fell into debt for failing to meet sales targets and was isolated by his own family after failing to pay them back borrowed cash.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In a despairing bid to balance his books, Gopalakrishnan exploited the RBS Fast Cash envelope deposit scheme.

He wrote on the front of the bank's business deposit wallets that there was a total of 155,000 inside when in fact he had actually only deposited 62,000. And rather than spending the 93,000 on himself, he had been buying extra stock and selling it at a loss – so his bosses thought his shops were doing well.

The fast cash con only lasted a week, and yesterday he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Unable to pay the money back, he looked dejected in the dock as his lawyer admitted he had no option but "to face the music".

By the time the crime was reported by RBS staff, Gopalakrishnan – who holds Danish citizenship – had fled the country. He was arrested on arriving back from Dubai at Glasgow Airport last July. The 93,000 has never been recovered.

In a previous hearing Gopalakrishnan pled guilty to carrying out the fraud at Midlothian RBS branches in Newtongrange and Bonnyrigg between 29 June and 6 July 2009.

Prosecutor Gerard Drugan said: "With the Fast Cash system, the bank takes it at face value that what is written is the amount inside and credit the account with that cash.

"Thankfully the bank have now modified their practices.

"What happened was the amount that had been deposited was deficient by 93,000.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The fraud came to light five days later, when the envelope turned up at another division of the bank and was checked.

Police took Gopalakrishnan to a Paisley police station, where he admitted being involved in a fraud.

His defence agent Paul Dunne said: "This is an act of financial desperation rather than an act of malice. Every time he failed to make an appropriate return to Costcutter a penalty then became liable to him.

"He began borrowing money off friends and family and ended up owing them tens of thousands of pounds, which he then was under pressure to also repay and left him isolated.

"A friend advised him of a scheme to mislead the bank into thinking he had deposited more money than he had.

He used it to pay his debt and, unusually, buy more stock and sell it for less then he bought it for, which wasn't a particularly sophisticated scheme.

"He knew the shortfall would be noticed and is here to face the music."

Sheriff James Scott said he accepted that Gopalakrishnan, of Gorebridge, had been under pressure, but insisted prison was the only option.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: "I recognise that there are substantial mitigating factors in your case and that you found yourself in a desperate situation.

"But you took 93,000 and not a penny has been repaid.

"Therefore I am satisfied that in your case no sentence other than custody is appropriate."