A former Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce employee currently serving a two-year conditional sentence for committing a $20 million fraud involving mutual fund clients has been sentenced to one year in jail by a Canadian court.

The worker, Dane Clarke, had been under house arrest while serving the conditional sentence, leaving his home only for work, shopping, medical and other excused purposes. Clarke is convicted of obtaining confidential customer account information to transfer $20 million out of 33 mutual fund client accounts into an account he controlled in November 1999. The plot was unraveled early on when one of the fund customers noticed money missing from their account.

The former telephone agent was sentenced in September 2002 after pleading not guilty and claiming he was framed. Clarke's appeal was denied, but he was slapped with a year in prison by the court.

"This was a huge fraud that could have resulted in almost unprecedented losses to the bank had it not been discovered by chance," three judges wrote in their decision. "Millions of dollars of customers' money were put at risk, and other bank employees came under suspicion during the investigation."

The prosecution argued at the appeal hearing that Clarke should serve hard time due to the seriousness of the offense, suggesting three to five years. However, since the fraud took place over such a short time, there were no monetary losses and the scheme was not particularly sophisticated, the judges decided to credit Clarke with time he has already spent serving his sentence. The judges also took into account that he exceeded his mandated number of hours of community service, has held down two jobs during his conditional sentence and that he is a father.

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