Kilburn woman’s fraud leaves Jamie Oliver’s design consultant in ruins

18:27 13 November 2012

Jamie Oliver is one of Interstate Associates Ltd

Jamie Oliver is one of Interstate Associates Ltd's clients

Archant

Maria Di Natal, an Oxford University lecturer, plundered the accounts of Interstate Associates Ltd

An Oxford University lecturer from Kilburn who left a design consultancy in ruins after siphoning off £436,000 out of their accounts has been jailed.

The Old Bailey heard Maria Di Natale, of Hartland Road, splashed out on designer clothes, holidays and hiring a private jet with the funds from her fraud.

The 45-year-old carried out her scam while working as a temporary financial controller for Interstate Associates Ltd who counted Jamie Oliver, The Victoria and Albert Museum and Penguin Books among its clients.

She tricked a director into making her a sole signatory for the company bank account and took the money in less than a year by writing cheques and using the firm’s credit card.

While pretending she only needed to work part time because she was ‘a lady of means’ she was plundering the firm’s accounts to spend thousands of pounds at stores including internet couture site ‘Net a Porter’ and Selfridges.

She hired holiday homes in Portugal, spent £10,000 flying friend to London from Italy on a private jet and made out cheques for thousands of pounds to family and friends.

When she realised she was about to be caught, she tried to have two incriminating computers stolen from the company offices.

Di Natale admitted fraud by abuse of position and attempting to pervert the course of justice on the first day of her trial today (Tuesday).

Interstate Associates Ltd, was based in Notting Hill and has offices in Chicago and Beirut.

The company is currently under a voluntary arrangement and is due to be wound up.

Jailing her for five years, the judge Mr Recorder Oliver Sells said: “This fraud has not only destroyed the company - it has destroyed careers, hopes and dreams.’”

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