'Bored' banker jailed for $400,000 theft

Jenna Lee Robinson at an earlier court appearance. Photo by ODT.
Jenna Lee Robinson at an earlier court appearance. Photo by ODT.
A Queenstown banker fought back tears as she was sentenced for stealing more than $400,000 from her employer.

Jenna Lee Robinson (29) was jailed for two years and seven months on six theft-related charges at the Queenstown District Court yesterday.

Judge Michael Turner suppressed the name of the bank, where she worked as a business banking relationship manager for six years.

Robinson created 16 fictitious accounts at the branch.

She then loaded them with loans and overdrafts from $12,000 to $120,000 between August 2010 and July 2013, totalling $402,386.

Robinson transferred the money to her personal accounts and used it to pay for the $115,000 deposit on her Arthurs Point home, a five-week holiday to Canada, a month-long trip to Japan, holidays within New Zealand and home furnishings.

She also paid off credit card debts and hire purchase agreements.

Judge Michael Turner said: ''I consider the gravity of your offending to be high, as is your culpability.

''There was an enormous breach of trust.

''The offending was systematic, carefully planned and spanned a period of two years. It was sophisticated.''

Judge Turner said Robinson told police she took the money initially as a test of the bank's security systems.

But she told a clinical psychologist she was ''bored'' with her job and life in Queenstown, annoyed at her employers, did not believe she would be caught and that the offending was ''fun'', Judge Turner said.

''Perhaps the best indication of your motivation can be found by following the money,'' he said.

''All of it was for your personal benefit.''

The psychologist diagnosed her with a schizoid personality disorder but it was not considered the cause of her offending, Judge Turner said.

Robinson had not paid back a cent of the $400,000 before handing an envelope full of $50 notes, totalling $500, to the court yesterday, through her solicitor, Nic Soper.

It was all she had to her name and not intended as an insult to the bank, Mr Soper said.

An auction of her home, valued at $700,000, became ''a fire sale'' after photos were published by local media and realised only $470,000, which covered the mortgage owed and fees.

A family boat was sold for $17,000, almost exactly what was owed on it.

Before going to prison, the former gifted student and respected employee was living with her parents in Wellington.

Her fall from grace had been traumatic and unexpected, Mr Soper said.

Robinson had resigned from the ''victim bank'' in August last year and was caught when the Asset Recovery Management team reviewed a customer file in arrears and found discrepancies.

An investigation found she had duped unwitting colleagues into approving payments into her own accounts.

Crown solicitor Sarah McKenzie said: ''Her work colleagues referred to being stunned and sickened by the offending.''

They felt guilty they did not spot the offending and were angry they had been ''lied to and manipulated'', Ms McKenzie said.

On admitting the offence, Robinson had immediately lost her senior management job with a different bank.

She was likely to be declared bankrupt within days and realistically had no prospect of repaying the money, Mr Soper said.

Robinson pleaded guilty to five charges of theft by a person in a special relationship and one charge of dishonestly accessing a computer system.