Six former employees of the Hilton Birmingham Metropole and a booking agent conspired to steal a total of £200,000 in bogus commission payments, a court ruled on Friday (18 July).
They were found guilty of taking advantage of the conference booking system to divert "commissions", which should have been paid only on bookings made by an agent, when firms had booked direct.
The two men who "drove the conspiracy forward" were John Kreft, who was the director of sales at the Metropole at the time, and conference and banqueting director Barry Lyne.
A judge at Coventry Crown Court heard that Lyne made £36,369 out of the arrangement, while Kreft made the largest amount, £97,747.
Richard Palmer, who ran Arena Productions and was the only conspirator who did not work at the hotel, made £12,633 from his part in the scam.
Of the other conspirators, John Flynn made £15,000, Justin Clark-Vine made £4,000, Rachel Clarke £1,500 and Joseph Hockridge made £7,800.
All seven had pleaded guilty at various hearings to conspiring to defraud the Metropole between 1997 and 2003.
Last Friday, Kreft was jailed for two-and-a-half years, Lyne for 18 months and Flynn for six months. Palmer was given a nine-month jail sentence suspended for 15 months. Hockridge was ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work, Clark-Vine 150 and Clarke 100.
In addition to the sentences, Judge Christopher Hodson ordered that the amounts they had made should be confiscated from Kreft, Lyne and Flynn, with further periods of imprisonment in default, and used to pay compensation to the Metropole.
The scam came to light in 2003 when an ex-employee blew the whistle.
By Paul Beard