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£25k National Theatre fraudster dodges prison

National Theatre, South Bank. Photo: Milan Gonda/Shutterstock
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A former financial manager at the National Theatre has been ordered to pay back more than £25,000, which she swindled from the venue in false expense claims.

Belinda Venter, who worked with the theatre’s catering team, was spared jail over the fraud because she has two young children.

Venter was handed a two year suspended sentence and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work. She was also told to pay back the £25,600.98 she had falsely claimed from the theatre, and pay a victim surcharge.

Handing down the sentence, recorder Emma Arbuthnot said that Venter was trusted by the theatre’s staff and her claims were not questioned.

“She initially denied the offences to her employer and only admitted them when they could prove she had done them. It was significant planning, it was persistent fraud,” she said.

According to the Daily Mail, she then told Venter: “You could have easily gone to prison today but you haven’t because of your children.”

A National Theatre spokesperson said: “Belinda Venter worked for the National Theatre for 12 years and was dismissed by the organisation in 2014 for gross misconduct. Belinda was employed as the commercial operations finance manager and in the latter course of her employment with the NT, Belinda committed fraudulent activity against the organisation.”

Last month, a former financial manager at the Leeds Grand Theatre was jailed for five years after conspiring to defraud the venue out of almost £180,000.

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