Company boss made fake flooding claim

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A business owner tried to defraud an insurance company out of more than £100,000 by making a false claim after Leeds’s Boxing Day floods of 2015.

Ruchi Dhir, 39, lied to her insurers that her premises on Enfield Street, Sheepscar, had been hit by the deluge.

Leeds Crown Court heard Dhir arranged to store 350 pallets of surplus stock at a warehouse beside the river Aire.

Giles Grant, prosecuting, said that the warehouse was badly flooded during Storm Eva and Dhir’s stock was destroyed. Dhir made enquiries with her insurance company and was told she only had cover for damage at her own Harewood International premises.

The court heard the company imports and exports stock from the Far East and had clients including Amazon.

Dhir tried to claim the flooding had happened at the Sheepscar premises, submitting pictures as part of the pretence.

The deception came to light when the claim was investigated.

Dhir was interviewed and made full admissions about her offending.

She said she realised she should have arranged for insurance cover for the warehouse but forgot because of the pressure she was under. Dhir pleaded guilty to fraud.

Nicholas De La Poer mitigating, said Dhir was of “exemplary character” before committing the offence. He said she lied to the insurance company in desperation as she feared she would lose her business. He said: “The storm that struck the country was not foreseen. It did strike. It did cause flooding and she did lose a very valuable portion of stock, placing the business in jeopardy.

“It was a bonefide claim at first but impulsively she told a lie.”

Mr De La Poer said 20 members of staff faced losing their jobs if Dhir was sent to prison.

She was given a 16 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay £7,200 compensation to the insurance company.