A Bradford bank worker has been jailed for his part in a plot to steal more than £1 million from account holders.

Barclays personal banker Chikezie Emeruem, who worked at Bradford city centre branch of the bank, schemed with cashiers Mohamed Iqbal and Tommy Jackman at the Sloane Square branch of Barclays in central London between August and November 2007.

They set up huge cash transfers while businessman Naresh Patwari laundered the cash or wired it abroad.

Sentencing them at London’s Southwark Crown Court today, judge Anthony Pitts said corruption and the abuse of trust lay at the heart of the case.

Emeruem, 33, was jailed for three-and-a-half years. Iqbal, 30, of Stanmore, London, was jailed for five years.

Jackman, 24, of Bloomsbury, London, cried in the dock as he was jailed for four and a half years, while Patwari, 50, of New Malden, Surrey, was sentenced to two years in jail and Karl Hessian, 29, of Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent – who was the least involved – was jailed for 12 months.

The judge said: “This case, at its heart, involves the corruption and the abuse of a position of trust by employees of Barclays bank.”

The judge told Emeruem: “It’s crystal clear from the evidence that you were involving yourself in these raids on the accounts of Barclays’ Sloane Square customers.”

He said Iqbal, Jackman and Emeruem “set about abusing the trust that had been placed in them by the bank and, not only by the bank, but the trust placed in them by the customers of the bank”.

They were, the judge said, “the nightmare of any customer”.

“That trust from the bank, and customers of the bank, was misplaced,” he said.

Almost £500,000 was taken from customer accounts and unsuccessful attempts were made to transfer another £633,000, the court heard.

But the gang left electronic records that showed them repeatedly accessing the database.

Jackman and Iqbal worked at Barclays in Sloane Square while Emeruem, of Church Lane, Adel, Leeds, was employed at the Bradford city centre branch. All the accounts targeted were in London.

The bank workers checked out wealthy account holders and then passed their details on to fraudsters who created false identity documents.

One of the gang would then use the false papers to set up an automated payment at a branch in a different part of the country.

Daniel Murray, representing Nigerian-born Emeruem, said his client did not play a crucial role in the plot and, without him, the crimes would have carried on regardless.

The court heard that Emeruem targeted £466,000. Emeruem was convicted of theft, attempted theft and fraud by abuse of position.