A Hounslow man who stole a million Swiss francs from a company in Surrey, "out of spite", has been jailed for more than three years.
Kassahun Biru, 33, was sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on Thursday (March 19), after pleading guilty to the theft, worth around £680,000.
The court heard that Biru had been an employee for First Rate Exchange Services, in Shepperton, for eight years as a cashier when he committed the offence, on March 3.
Prosecutor Shikha Varma told the court that the manager of the company became aware that the money was missing when he was notified that there was a discrepancy in the stock.
One of the ‘bricks’ of notes, which was kept in a locker, was unaccounted for.
The court heard that CCTV footage showed Biru acting suspiciously near the notes cabinet for ‘VIP’ customers. He would not usually be required to go into that area of the office.
Just after 12pm, Biru was then seen at a ‘lock-and-store’ in Hounslow – Big Yellow – with what appeared to be the brick of money in the front pouch of his top.
Biru’s phone was seized and a few days later a warrant at Big Yellow led officers to a locker with a rucksack containing the currency.
It is understood that most, if not all, of the cash has now been returned.
Anthony Heaton-Armstrong, for the defence, said Biru did not have any plans to spend the money that he stole but instead took it as an act of defiance, after his employers had started to "lose patience with his personal behaviour".
“It was more out of spite than any intention to actually use it,” said Mr Heaton-Armstrong. “He had no plans to, for example, go abroad, or change any of it.
“He is also very aware that he has let himself down and brought shame on himself.
“He is never going to be able to work in a role that requires trust again.
“This rules out most occupations. His life is going to be very dramatically affected.”
Biru, of High Street, Hounslow, declined an official mental health assessment or pre-sentence report, as he "did not want to waste the court’s money".
“He is extremely sorry and ashamed,” said his lawyer.
Sentencing him, Judge Christopher Critchlow said: “This was a great breach of trust.
“You were trusted to handle large amounts of money.
“Although you have been in trouble before for a disorderly matter, you have never lost your liberty.
“I bear in mind all that I have been told, and that you may have some mental health issues.”
He was sentenced to 45 months in prison.