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Company: Norwich Union

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Employee Assets Frozen

Date Class
20th Jun 2003 Fraud Investigation
The bank accounts of a Norwich Union employee at the centre of a 1.5m fraud have been frozen.

Carol Birrell, originally from Liverpool, is one of 30 people from Merseyside named in a writ lodged at London's High Court by Norwich Union Insurance of Surrey Street.

She was dismissed from her job with the insurance giant on Friday after being suspended in late May.

The writ was lodged at the High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division on May 23.

It demands from Ms Birrell an account of "all funds misappropriated and of all of the proceeds of converted cheques"

Claims against the others include "damages for conversion and/or conspiracy" as well as "equitable compensation for knowing receipt and/or knowing assistance".

The court has now taken action to freeze Ms Birrell's bank accounts.

Norwich Union began investigating around seven months ago after a tip-off.

The alleged fraud is thought to have been committed in a Norwich Union office in Southend and involved the processing of fraudulent claims. It is thought the fraud had been operating for several years.

There was no answer last night at the address in Liverpool listed on the writ for Ms Birrell.

A spokesman for Norwich Union Insurance said details of the suspected fraud had been passed to the police, but charges had yet to be filed.

He said: "We decided to act because we needed to freeze her assets to get the money back. No policyholders money is at risk."

The company has stressed the matter was not part of a wider investigation and expressed confidence in the integrity of its staff.

NU is the UK's largest insurance group, with around 25 million customers worldwide. It is owned by Aviva, the world's seventh largest insurance group.

Around 33,000 are employed nationally by NU, with around 8,000 in Norwich.

It is building a new call centre on Broadland Business Park to accommodate 750 staff. Plans are also underway for two Norwich Union centres in Delhi and Bangalore in India, which will together employ around 1,000 people by the end of the year.

In February Aviva said its 2002 performance was robust, despite a 9pc drop in operating profits to 1.8bn.




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