CASE STUDY

The dodgy accountant
Criminal

Accountants are placed in a position of trust by their clients. When an accountant commits fraud or embezzles funds, it is likely that this will be detected, but perhaps not immediately. In the interval between the fraud and its detection the clients’ funds disappear. In this particular case the accused worked for two accountancy firms in six months and, in both positions, she abused her position of trust to fund her online gambling addiction. She worked in tax departments of these firms which acted as agents of their clients in tax matters such that HM Revenue and Customs (“HMRC”) would correspond directly with the firms. In her roles within these accountancy firms, the accused was in a position to submit claims to reduce payments of tax on behalf of these clients. If their tax had already been paid, then HMRC would repay any overpayments on the instructions of the firms. In a three month period certain clients of the first firm were notified that they were to receive tax repayments. The clients did not expect these and, in the event, did not receive them. Instead the clients received notices of the repayments being made into bank accounts which they did not recognise. In the following three months the same pattern of events occurred to clients of the second firm. The events coincided with the employment of the accused at these two firms and involved clients for whose tax affairs she was responsible. Payments were also made from credit cards of four individuals to online gambling companies, none of which the card holders initiated. The accused knew at least three of these individuals, and one of the three had possession of the credit card of the fourth individual. The accused was in a position to gain access to all these credit cards. In the event, the Crown charges, which totalled over £220,000, contained no significant inaccuracies, and were, in all cases, supported by documentary evidence, and there was no credible defence argument.

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