Jail for accountant who swindled elderly victims out of £2m
A FRAUDSTER accountant who scammed his elderly victims out of almost £2 million was yesterday jailed for seven years.
Richard David Arthur lived an extravagant lifestyle, went on expensive holidays and even used some of the cash he took to help buy a Formula One racing car previously owned by Michael Schumacher, the Royal Court heard.
The court – which went beyond the Crown’s sentencing recommendation of a six-year jail sentence by imposing a further 12 months in custody – heard that the 57-year-old’s crimes had caused ‘profound distress’ to his elderly victims who had trusted him ‘implicitly’.
Arthur, who was a chartered accountant and managing director of the accountancy firm BDO, carried out the deception over a seven-year period from 2002, the Superior Number, which only convenes for the most serious of cases, was told.
Outlining the prosecution’s case, Crown Advocate Nuno Santos-Costa said Arthur admitted fraudulently obtaining £2,637,401. Although some of the funds were returned, the total amount lost by Arthur’s victims was £1,927,601.
‘There can be no doubt that Arthur was very much in a position of trust and that his victims trusted him implicitly,’ Advocate Santos-Costa said.
‘There can also be no doubt that he abused that trust for his own benefit and personal gain.’
The court heard that on one occasion, in 2002, Arthur persuaded his colleagues to agree the transfer of £750,000 from a company owned by one of his victims on the understanding that it would be used to buy shares in another. However, the money was transferred to a bank account for which Arthur was the sole signatory and he spent the money within days.
Advocate Santos-Costa said that during his offending Arthur was several hundred thousand pounds overdrawn and that he used some of the cash he took to inject into businesses which he owned, as well as to help buy the racing car.
‘Despite the fact that in September 2008 his overdraft was at its £600,000 limit he continued to book extremely expensive holidays and to live a totally extravagant lifestyle,’ Advocate Santos-Costa said.
Arthur, who the court was told was of previous good character, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud, four counts of fraudulent conversion and four counts of falsifying accounts.
Advocate David Steenson, defending, said his client’s deception was ‘not sophisticated’ and that he had turned to crime to try to keep an investment afloat rather than spending the money on ‘frivolous consumables’.
‘The truth is that he wasn’t very good at being dishonest,’ Advocate Steenson said.
‘Instead of confronting his financial problems in a proper manner he took the easy way out. Clichés are clichés for a reason. The fact is he could not see the wood for the trees and he ended up digging himself an even bigger hole.’
Advocate Steenson said his client was a ‘broken man’, that he no longer sees his daughters and added that ‘he has been punished pretty mightily already’.
‘He is a man who has lost virtually everything, his career, his money – he had a lot at one point, his home,’ the advocate said. ‘He has separated from his wife.’
As well as increasing the sentence called for by the Crown by 12 months, the court also banned Arthur from participating in corporate management or directorship for 12 years.
Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, presiding, said: ‘In our view this is a really serious case of fraud by the defendant holding the most senior position, namely managing director of a well-known firm of accountants,’ he said.
‘He has caused profound distress to his victims and has damaged the integrity of the financial services sector and the trust of those using the service.’
Jurats Charles Blampied, Rozanne Thomas, Pamela Pitman, Robert Christensen and Sylvia Milner were sitting.
Fire which ripped through an artist's studio was most likely caused by fault with electric bike on charge