Principality boss jailed for theft at work

Michael Lloyd

August 6, 2019

A boss at Principality Building Society was jailed to two years and six months after using her position to steal thousands of pounds for herself and family members, The Sun has reported.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that Claire Free used a “senior managerial role” at the society at which she had worked for 23 years, to forge letters from a dead customer to take their savings.

Over a period of 10 years she stole £187,170.63 in total.

She was caught when a son of a dead customer saw his dad’s account had been closed and that £1,970 was missing.

Prosecutor Alison O’Shea said: “Senior managers at Principality Building Society became aware of Free’s actions when they received a complaint from the son of a deceased gentleman.

“He said £1,970 was removed from his later father’s account which had then been closed.

“Free was suspended from work and a letter was recovered from the deceased authorising the closure of his account.

“That letter clearly had been forged.”

The court heard Free transferred money 149 times, using bank transfers and paying in cheques.

O’Shea added: “The money was spent on living expenses and not on an extravagant or high lifestyle.

“Money went into her bank account and that of her family.”

Free admitted theft by an employee and later this year will face a Proceeds of Crime Act to learn how much she will pay back.

Kevin Seal from the defence said: “One cannot imagine a greater fall from grace.

“She was highly thought of at Principality Building Society and was promoted because of her industry in that profession.

“There was no lavish lifestyle by any stretch of the imagination. The money filled in holes in her and her family’s financing.”

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