In a salutary warning to companies that the honesty of even the most senior staff cannot always be relied upon, an executive who ripped off millions from his employers to pay for his palatial manor house home has been condemned as a forger and a fraudster by the High Court.
Whilst working for a private equity investment company, the executive had siphoned more than £12 million from its bank account in little more than a year. He had used the money to buy an architectural gem in the Cotswolds as well as to fund his extravagant lifestyle and to prop up various ailing business ventures.
The company accused him of ‘stealing’ the money and pursued claims of fraudulent misrepresentation, deceit and breach of fiduciary duty and trust against him. He admitted taking the money but insisted that most of it had been lent to him by the company or had otherwise been spent in good faith for legitimate purposes. He also counterclaimed that he was owed £18 million in respect of unpaid remuneration and loss of future earnings.
However, in entering summary judgment against the executive, the Court found that documentary evidence demonstrated ‘a disgraceful pattern of fraud and forgery’. His defence to the claim was rejected as ‘preposterous’ and his counterclaim as ‘hopeless’. The Court concluded, “As a director, he misappropriated funds, applying them for an improper purpose. He held the funds as a trustee and is liable to pay them back.”