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Graduate accused of stealing £600,000 from Heinz in customer billing scam

Patrick Sawer
Mr Chopra is accused of working with an accomplice in India to carry out the theft of £648,000 - Facebook

A young graduate is accused of stealing more than half a million pounds from the food giant Heinz after working at the firm for less than a year.

Karan Chopra is being sued by Heinz for damages and the return of £648,000 it accuses him of syphoning off into phoney customer accounts.

The then 27-year-old joined the food manufacturer as a commercial analyst four years after graduating in business and finance from the University of Hull.

His job was to increase sales by making deals with wholesale customers, sometimes offering them rebates if they bought enough of a certain Heinz product.

But Mr Chopra, from Slough,  is now accused of having teamed up with an accomplice based in India, who he nicknamed ‘Mr Reliable’, to set up a string of fake companies through which to divert funds.

It’s claimed he entered into the scheme after just a few weeks with the firm.

Mr Chopra and Rohit Jain, who worked for an Indian-based information technology company called Genpact, are accused of devising a system to pay themselves cash which should have been paid to Heinz by exploiting their knowledge of its processing and payments system.

A claim form lodged with the High Court alleges that Mr Chopra continued to receive money due to Heinz even when he left the firm after less than a year.

The pair are alleged to have set up a total of four fictitious companies to claim rebates they were not entitled to.

Karan Chopra, who stands accused of stealing £648,000 from Heinz Credit: LinkedIn

Mr Chopra, who went on to work for Nestle as a commercial finance analyst, is accused in the claim of having misappropriated a total of £648,269.74 through “deceit, unlawful means conspiracy, and breach of contract”.

Heinz is suing him for the return of the money, as well as damages, and says he intentionally inflicted harm on the company through his unlawful acts.

Mr Chopra joined Heinz, the UK arm of parent company Kraft Heinz, in December 2016 and  it’s claimed that within months he emailed his friend who worked at Genpact, asking to set up a new customer account for Country Fare Foodservice Ltd, and giving his own bank account details with Lloyds, through which Heinz paid his salary.

The court will hear that he fabricated an email trail and as a result of his deception he was

paid an initial £6,800, followed by a duplicate payment of £6,800. This was followed by separate payments of £16,100 and £16,100.

Having successfully obtained those relatively modest sums Mr Chopra appeared to become emboldened and subsequently received £59,400 and £66,900, allegedly followed by two more payments, this time for £69,060, and £34,649.76.

Heinz claims Mr Chopra, now aged 30, also set up customer accounts in the names of Bidfood Direct, allegedly altering documents so that money would be sent to an email account he could access.

In the Claim filed at Court it is said that he then helped himself to payments totaling more than £250,000.

Before he left Heinz in October 2017 he is accused of having made an agreement with Jain to misappropriate money and hide their actions, using fabricated invoices so that Heinz paid money, through Genpact, to bank accounts which Mr Chopra could access.

There is no suggestion that Genpact knew of or were complicit in the alleged actions of the two men.

In May 2018, Mr Chopra is alleged to have opened an account with the Southall branch of the State Bank of India, which he used to pay Jain around £11,848.

The court will hear that Jain set up new customer accounts with Heinz in the names of former customers and paid £53,460 to a Metro Bank account, which could be accessed by Chopra.

It is claimed that shortly after this Mr Chopra sent Jain an email saying “baaki baad mein”, which translates from Hindi as “more to follow”.

Heinz accuses Mr Chopra of acting “in flagrant and cynical disregard for its right”, and is seeking exemplary damages from him, as well as repayment of the stolen funds.

The analyst, who was brought up in Slough, left Hull university in 2012 and went on hold a string of jobs as a finance and accounts assistant before joining Kraft Heinz in April 2016, working at their offices in the Shard building at London Bridge.

Mr Chopra, who did not respond to requests for comment, is expected to deny the claims made against him.