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28th May 2024, 12:13

Former Natwest employee Gillian Balban sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for fraud and false accounting

Published by GBC News

Former Natwest Senior Manager Gillian Balban has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for fraud and false accounting.

Earlier this year, a jury decided she was responsible for covering up a £2 million hole in the bank’s cash reserves and accumulating IOU slips between 2011 and 2017.

The sentence follows Gibraltar's longest jury trial in 20 years. 

Interest in the 52-year-old’s trial continued to the end. Not a single seat was vacant in the courtroom. Former Natwest employees and their families gathered on one side, Balban’s family on the other. All waiting for a conclusion to the case once and for all.

Puisne Judge Liam Yates had looked at the facts of the case. Balban was found guilty of two counts of false accounting, three counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of fraud by false representation, by a jury of nine in March this year.

On Tuesday, the Crown read out two victim impact statements from former Natwest employees who had left the bank after being invited to disciplinary meetings once Balban’s actions came to light. The court heard the individuals have suffered depression, panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts as a result of what Gillian Balban did.

Mr Justice Yeats said he had no hesitation in accepting their statements.

Balban's lawyer, Robert Fischel KC, said that 'sadly' there was little in the way of mitigation. He simply highlighted her age and the fact that her parents were ageing and and she cared for her seriously ill father.

Mr Justice Yeats said Balban had maintained she was being blamed by others for the bank not following procedures correctly, when interviewed by a probation officer ahead of sentencing.

He said this showed a lack of remorse.

Mr Justice Yeats also referred to a business impact statement, in which Country Head of Natwest International Peter Booth said this was not a crime with a faceless corporate entity as a victim. Mr Booth said current and former employees have been impacted by Gillian Balban's actions. And while no customer accounts were affected, the fraud did have a negative impact on the bank’s finances.

The judge decided seven years and six months would be proportionate to the seriousness of the offences.

Upon hearing her fate, Balban remained calm and collected.

She hugged her family in the courtroom before being escorted to a police van that would take her to Windmill Hill Prison.

A Notice of Appeal has been filed at the Supreme Court but we do not know when the Appeal will be ready for hearing.