Accountant blew GBP850,000 of his employer's cash
The Yorkshire Evening Post reports that 30-year-old accountant Matthew Stevens has been jailed for three years and four months for stealing GBP 850,000 from his employer and gambling it away with online gambling provider Betfred.
The accused pleaded guilty to two charges.
Prosecutor Martin Robertshaw said that Stevens plundered his firm's accounts over a 13-month period to fund his addiction to online gambling, becoming a VIP customer at the Betfred website.
The Leeds Crown Court heard that Stevens abused the trust placed in him by his employer, Mahmood Mazhar, who trained him in accounting and book keeping at his company Core Telecommunications.
Stevens was subsequently appointed in-house accountant, responsible for paying creditors and staff wages, and with access to company bank accounts.
The court was told that Stevens "bled" company bank accounts dry by transferring money to his own accounts and covering it up with fictitious transactions.
His employer became concerned when creditors began contacting him to say they had not been paid, but Stevens assured him that they were wrong.
However, Mahmood was then contacted by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over an unpaid tax bill of GBP250,000, and Stevens was again asked for an explanation. This time he blamed the HMRC, but an investigation ensued and Stevens was arrested.
Steven's defence lawyer claimed that the accountant became addicted to online gambling, and that the UK Gambling Commission has been advised of the inducements offered by Betfred to encourage Stevens to continue to gamble.
He added: "The money was taken and the money was stolen and the defendant has used that money for gambling and not to fund a lavish lifestyle," claiming that his client has intended to repay the money from winnings but had been unable to do so.
Sentencing Stevens, Recorder Abdul Iqbal, QC, said: "You knew the intimate workings of this business and you must have known the impact of bleeding those bank accounts dry."
Contacted by the Yorkshire Evening Post, a Betfred spokesman said the company would "…look to review its operating procedures should any learning points emerge from this or indeed any case. However there is no evidence to suggest that any enticement of any kind was a factor in this case."
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