A former Procter & Gamble employee and a wholesaler have been given suspended jail terms after pleading guilty to a scam that cost the supplier £200,000.

Christopher Brown, a senior account manager at P&G, and Carl Grue, who also worked for the company before leaving to set up wholesaler Fairfield Trading, both received 12-month sentences suspended for two years for their roles in the fraud involving Duracell batteries. They were also both ordered to carry out 250 hours of community service and pay £3,000 costs.

The men were sentenced this week at St Albans Crown Court having pleaded guilty last month. The pair used fake invoices over a three-year period to steal money from P&G. Grue, who worked at P&G from 1998 to 2002 before setting up Fairfield, would send the fake invoices to Brown and the pair would split the cash. Brown, who had worked for the company for 19 years and according to the prosecution was generally considered a "trusted individual", also created fake invoices to fake companies using the names of friends and family.

The fraud cost P&G £91,353 plus VAT. Additionally, Grue also inflated his turnover figures and invoices to the company, resulting in further losses to P&G of £92,643.

The fraud was finally uncovered by a whistleblower, leading to the suspension and arrest of Brown in May 2008 and the arrest of Grue in August of that year.

Brown admitted conspiracy to defraud and Grue admitted theft. Summing up, the judge said Brown had abused his position and Grue had willingly participated and also set up his own fraud. However, he had chosen to suspend the prison terms because Fairfield Trading had returned £200,000 to P&G.

In mitigation, Brown's counsel said that although he had spent some of the money on foreign holidays, he still lived in a small two-bedroom house in Hertford. He had also paid for two holidays for his terminally ill sister and donated £3,000 to the British Heart Foundation.