FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian is reflected in the window of a branch of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in central Sydney, Australia, October 25, 2017. Reuters/Steven Saphore/File Photo

A former ANZ senior manager was sentenced to 24 months in prison on Friday. Tracey Lee Cook was found guilty last week of stealing more than $300,000 from the bank.

The court heard that the 44-year-old mother of two used her high position in the Melbourne bank to pocket more than $300,000 in fraudulent deposits. She abused her role and asked her unsuspecting junior staff to do the work for her. She handled a team of 162 people.

Between December 2014 and June 2016, Cook stole a total of $311,529.62 to purchase jet skis, buy a car for her husband and pay for a deposit on an investment property among others, reports. She asked the staff members under her leadership to process 14 dishonoured cheques – or cheques that cannot be recovered as their value have been “written off” – for her. The money went straight into various accounts, including to her family and other third parties.

Cook tried to cover up her dirty work with additional transactions, even transferring money into and out of different accounts on some occasions in a bid to delay any routine investigation. When asked why the ANZ accounts were being debited, she claimed there had been a change in the delivery company used by the bank, blaming it for the missing bags of cheques. She was found out after a junior staff member raised a red flag.

Cook confessed immediately and repaid the entire amount she stole, returning more than $262,000 after her long-service leave payment was deducted from the total. She had been working with the bank since 1997. Her employment with ANZ had been terminated following an investigation.

She pleaded guilty to four counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception last week. She attempted to avoid jail, with her lawyer arguing that she should not be separated from her family, especially now that her 17-year-old daughter is in her final year of high school.

However, Judge Trevor Wraight said her offending was a gross breach of trust, particularly because she was already earning significant income. She and her husband were earning a combined income of more than $450,000 a year.

“You said your family was living a lie they did not have to live,” the judge said. “You were in a trusted position as an employee and manager.”

Wraight added that Cook knew what she was doing was wrong and that her staff never questioned her because they trusted her as their leader. “This is greed. It’s absolute greed,” he said. “I think the offending itself is up there. It was to meet a lavish lifestyle of a family that was already in the top few percent of earnings in the country.”

Cook was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment. She must serve at least 15 months of her sentence.