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Accountant admits stealing $68,000 through numerous dishonest insurance claims

A Sri Lankan accountant yesterday admitted stealing almost $70,000 from her insurance company by falsely claiming she had surgery overseas.She submitted another claim on May 18, 2011, stating she had again had surgery in her home country and was requesting another $13,897 in reimbursements.

Chadima Gangula Archchige, 37, pleaded guilty in Magistrates’ Court, to three counts of dishonestly obtaining $68,419 from BF&M, and a further count of attempting to obtain another $13,897.

Archchige had initially denied the charges.

Crown counsel Kirsty-Ann Kiellor said Archchige submitted a claim to BF&M on January 5, 2010, for the cost of a surgery at Hamas Hospital in Sri Lanka. She was employed by HWP at the time.

Archchige informed BF&M that she paid $35,120 for the surgery, and submitted an invoice and diagnosis card with the hospital’s letterhead.

The insurance company approved the claim and reimbursed Archchige $26,340, which she deposited into her bank account.

Archchige submitted claims for two more surgeries at different hospitals in her home country in the following months. She received payments of $23,525.20 and $18,574.69 from BF&M.

On both occasions she submitted documents using the hospital’s letterhead and told the insurance company she paid for the surgeries out-of-pocket.

The insurance company, suspicious of both the number and value of the claims, contacted the hospitals in Sri Lanka and discovered that they had no record of the surgeries taking place.

Bermuda Immigration records showed Archchige was in Bermuda on the date the first two surgeries supposedly took place. She left the Island on the same day the third surgery allegedly took place, making it impossible for her to have been operated on in Sri Lanka that day.

She was arrested at LF Wade International Airport on August 20, as she attempted to leave the Country.

Her lawyer, Saul Dismont, said Archchige wasn’t trying to flee. He insisted she intended to return to Bermuda after she attended her uncle’s funeral and visited her sick mother.

Mr Dismont said that Archchige was under great pressure to support her family overseas.

Those demands led to her making the poor decision to steal the money, the lawyer said.

She intends to return the money to BF&M, he added.

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner said he doubted that the money could be returned any time soon.

“The reason she stole the funds was to support her family, which could almost be considered noble,” he said. “If that was true, it means they don’t have the means to repay this money.”

Mr Warner also said that while BF&M may be a wealthy company, it would be the public who in the end would pay the bill of insurance fraud.

“How do you think they become wealthy?” Mr Warner said. “By charging me excessive premiums to make up for losses like that. They charge me, the public-at-large.

“Members of the public suffer, not withstanding that it’s a corporation that has been ripped off.”

Mr Warner adjourned the matter until September 21 for further submissions and for sentencing. Archchige was remanded into custody.

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Published September 08, 2011 at 9:44 am (Updated September 08, 2011 at 9:44 am)

Accountant admits stealing $68,000 through numerous dishonest insurance claims

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