NIFA NEWS

Investigation uncovers eight year fraud

A former Chief Executive at Age Concern has been convicted of stealing more than £700,000 during an eight-year fraud. It was uncovered after a financial manager spotted a supporting document for a fraudulent payment and a forensic investigation was set in motion.

John Briers was found guilty at Newcastle Crown Court of paying 60 cheques into his own bank account and giving himself 12 unauthorised bonuses and 19 additional pension contributions. The jury unanimously found him guilty of three counts of fraud between 2007 and 2015. Referring to the “clear and compelling evidence” of the fraud, the judge remanded Briers in custody and promised him a “significant custodial sentence” in due course.

When his office was searched as part of the investigation, templates of blank invoices for firms Age Concern had dealt with were found. Briers had tried to cover his tracks by pretending that the fraudulent payments were to businesses that had supplied goods and services to Age Concern. He had also fabricated documents, such as false minutes of board meetings, which suggested bonus payments had been approved by the charity’s board of trustees.

When a forensic investigation is launched into allegations of fraudulent activity, it is guaranteed to be thorough, professional and independent. The forensic accountants will collect evidence, such as documentation, and interview anyone who has had dealings with the matter under investigation. In this case, the financial manager will have been asked what led them to the conclusion that the identified document was fraudulent.

The investigating team will be experts in their field and have a wealth of experience, as well as sophisticated software, that will enable them to spot anomalies and suspect patterns quickly.

Roger Isaacs, Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “This is a case that shines a spotlight on the importance of financial controls. Often these types of crimes only come to light by chance if adequate controls are not in place and it then requires a detailed forensic investigation to unravel what can often be many years of deceit.”

Author: Roger Isaacs 14 May 2018

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