A FORMER Bromley Council worker has avoided jail after he admitted swindling the local authority out of nearly £46,000.

Andrew Rooke, aged 48, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on Monday (February 3) to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours of community service.

He worked as an insurance and risk manager, and pleaded guilty to making three false insurance payments totalling £45,950 between October 2011 and May 2013.

An investigation, which included allegations from Rooke’s wife, was conducted by officers in Bromley’s internal audit team and the fraud team at the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

It showed Rooke had committed fraud by activating previously closed cases and by means of false documentation.

He made three fraudulent payments, two of which were paid in to his parents' bank account.

Rooke was dismissed from the council at the end of May 2013. The case was then referred to the police.

The court heard Rooke has paid back all the money defrauded.

Bromley Council leader Councillor Stephen Carr said: "Bromley Council is well known for its sound financial management and robust systems to detect fraud, coupled with its proven success in recouping defrauded funds.

"This was, however, a highly sophisticated and complex fraud. "We act on all concerns whether highlighted through routine auditing procedures or raised in other ways.

"Our whistle-blowing procedure is well publicised and we actively encourage staff and the public to raise allegations of fraud and misuse of public monies.

"In this case, the investigation was escalated by allegations made from an external source and led to the early dismissal and the arrest of Andrew Rooke, a senior employee who woefully betrayed his position of trust within the council.

"Our strong, swift action has resulted in the money being paid back. We have always been determined to stamp out fraud and take a zero-tolerance approach to any perpetrators."

Anyone with information about a suspected benefit fraud should contact the fraud hotline on 0800 169 6975 or email audit@bromley.gov.uk