Belfast Telegraph

Fraudster accountant jailed after £1m theft from firm

A finance director who stole more than £1m from his employers after uncovering a “weakness” in their accountancy system has been jailed for three and a half years.

Jailing 47-year-old Gary Moore at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Patrick Lynch QC told the qualified accountant that his seven-year fraud represented a “serious breach of trust” which Howdens UK Ltd had placed in him.

Earlier he heard that Moore, from Roddens Park in Belfast, joined the large-scale manufacturing firm in 1987 and worked his way up through the ranks of the finance department, eventually becoming finance director in charge of three senior and nine junior staff members.

Prosecuting lawyer Ian Tannahill told the court that essentially, Moore uncovered a weakness in the accountancy system that allowed him to write cheques which should have been voided and sent back to the bank, to himself “for his own benefit”.

In total, between May 2004 and March 2011, when the fraud was finally uncovered, Moore stole £1,048,368.91.

The “sophisticated, well planned and executed embezzlement” was uncovered when there was a query over one such cheque, and when Moore realised this, he sent his bosses an e-mail admitting to everything he had done and to what he had stolen.

He later pleaded guilty to the theft of the money and to possessing blank HSBC cheques for use in fraud. Defence QC Arthur Harvey said that when the fraud was uncovered, Moore co-operated fully with the investigation, identifying the accounting weakness to the firm and also assisting it in blocking that hole.

His bank accounts were also frozen and it was found that around £700,000 of the stolen monies had not been spent.

Mr Harvey said that Moore, who was on a salary in the region of £70,000 per year with the possibility of bonuses to be added on, had used the cash to finance expensive holidays.

He added, however, that the former director had already paid a heavy penalty as he had lost his job, his good reputation and his pension which had been built-up since he joined the firm more than 20 years ago.

Ordering that Moore spend 15 months in custody and 27 months on licence when released, Judge Lynch told him that despite his guilty plea, clear record and “genuine remorse ... a prison sentence is inevitable” given the amount stolen and the breach of trust.

Belfast Telegraph

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