Medical centre manager Ashok Patel tells court he did not cheat his employers out of £60,000
A medical centre manager has told a jury he did not cheat his employers out of £60,000.
Ashok Patel said he never took money without permission while he was in charge of the finances at Highfields Health Centre, in Leicester.
The 54-year-old is accused of helping himself to business cheques, using them "as his own" to pay thousands of pounds into his own bank accounts and withdraw cash.
Giving evidence in his defence at Leicester Crown Court, he said all the transactions were above board.
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Patel, of Blundell Road, Evington, denies four counts of fraudulently using his employers' cheques, between March 2008 and July 2010.
He said his £55,000-a-year salary also included bonuses and increments, as well as £15,000 finance towards a secondhand car.
Patel said senior partners at the centre, which runs surgeries in Melbourne Road, Highfields, and Moira Street, Belgrave, had signed and approved all the cheques.
He said: "They knew where the money was going."
He denied asking them to sign blank cheques, as alleged by the prosecution.
Senior partner Dr Jatin Patel earlier told the court that he and another partner signed blank cheques "out of trust".
The prosecution allege Patel's actions took the health centre, which has 8,000 patients, to the brink of bankruptcy.
The defendant claimed a £1,000 company cheque used towards a credit card bill was legitimate reimbursement for purchases made on behalf of the surgery.
He is claiming he has been falsely accused because doctors wanted to get rid of him.
Under cross-examination, he said he routinely omitted to fill in the payees on cheque stubs as the centre's bookkeeper would make the entries when reconciling them against invoices.
However, he admitted "a pure error" when he filled in a cheque stub, relating to a £5,000 deposit towards a Mercedes sports car, which wrongly stated a payment had been made to pharmaceutical company.
A similar error was said to have been made in relation to the cheque stub of a £10,400 payment paid into his bank account, that wrongly stated it was for medical supplies.
Defence counsel Balraj Bhatia asked Ashok Patel yesterday: "Did you use partnership cheques to credit your bank account without their express permission or knowledge?"
He replied: "Emphatically, no."
The prosecution allege a claim on Patel's application for the health centre job, to have formerly been "general manager" in charge of 70 people at city disposable products firm LPC (UK) Ltd, between 2000 and 2005, was incorrect.
A member of the firm's human resources team told the jury they had no record of him holding such a position, only of him being a shift supervisor in a satellite factory, for half a dozen staff, leaving in 2003.
The defendant said a former colleague at the company, who could no longer be located, had written him a personal reference for the health centre job, in 2007.
The prosecution claim the reference, written on headed notepaper, was out-of-date and would not have been used by the firm in 2007.
The trial continues on Monday.