A Sikh elder who stashed away £150,000 in a secret Indian bank account while claiming thousands of pounds in pension credit has been spared jail.
Harcharan Singh Bola, 65, pocketed more than £26,000 over two years after lying about his family’s wealth.
The trickster, from Stenson Fields, Derby, told the Department of Work and Pensions in 2014 that he only had £1,500 in a UK joint account he shared with his wife.
But his fraud was uncovered after investigators were tipped-off that he was receiving interest from one of four bank accounts he held in his home country.
Sikh elder Harcharan Singh Bola, 65, who stashed away £150,000 in a secret Indian bank account while claiming thousands of pounds in pension credit has been spared jail
They were shocked to discover he had £150,375 cash in the overseas account.
However, the slippery pensioner avoided jail after a hearing at Derby Crown Court, where he was handed a 24-week sentence suspended for a year, as well as a 12-week curfew.
Judge Peter Cooke told him: ‘This claim was fraudulent from the outset because you knew you had control of a bank account in India that held a substantial amount of money and you knew that a percentage of that was coming your way.
‘At the age of 65 having your liberty restrained shows the disapproval those of us who pay our taxes, and who you chose to steal from, have for your offending.’
Bola, a former Secretary of the Sikh Gurdwara in Stanhope Street, Derby, applied for pension credit in 2014.
The same year he appeared in court as an assault victim after he was struck by another committee member on New Year’s Day during a disagreement over the programme of worship.
John Dunne, prosecuting, said: ‘As part of his claim he was asked if he had any bank accounts and said he had one with his wife which had a modest amount of money in it – some £1,500.
‘The DWP received information he was getting interest from a bank account in India and investigators discovered he actually had four bank accounts there one of which contained £150,375.
‘He did not mention this until this was put to him and, when it was, he told them the money had come from some land which had been sold when his mother died and which he was holding there for him and his family and would be split seven ways.’
The slippery pensioner was handed a 24-week sentence suspended for a year, as well as a 12-week curfew, at Derby Crown Court
Mr Dunne said Bola has paid back the £26,000 he was unlawfully paid using money from the Indian bank account.
Bola, of Beaufort Road, has a previous fraud conviction dating back more than 30 years and admitted to his latest scam.
In addition to his suspended sentence and curfew he must pay £250 in costs.
Stephen Taylor, defending, said the fraudster, who was left with a permanent scar on his head after the Gurdwara altercation, was ill and caring for his wife who was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.
A spokesman for the Gurdwara confirmed that Bola was no longer on the committee.
The head of the temple, Tarsem Singh, was jailed in 2013 after admitting he ran an illicit alcohol operation which is believed to have cost the taxpayer £1 million.