Accountancy firm Wilson Henry was called in to examine the books of a Lancashire firm in 2014 and discovered illegal transfers and transactions which led to the arrest of three men. Tony McDonough reports
A financial forensic team based in Liverpool have played a key role in the conviction of three men from Merseyside and Lancashire who were jailed for a £1m fraud.
Earlier this year David Scott, 53, of Moss Lane, Burscough, Richard Adderley, 32, of Station Road, New Longton and Colin Balshaw, 45, of Heathfield Road, Southport, were all sentenced for defrauding their employer.
A crack team of financial experts from Liverpool-based accountancy firm Wilson Henry’s forensic department, led by director Hilene Henry, acted as expert witnesses in the case.
Balshaw and Adderley pleaded guilty, with Scott pleading not guilty and going to trial at Preston Crown Court.
Scott was jailed for seven years and three months on March 2 after being found guilty by a jury. Balshaw and Adderley were sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and given 200 hours unpaid work.
All three had worked at LS Systems, a horticultural business based in Tarleton, providing products and service to growers, along with irrigation and water management systems, and engineering projects.
They were arrested by officers after suspicious activity was spotted on company accounts in 2014.
Wilson Henry was initially engaged to review the firm’s accounts system and quickly discovered a number of transactions that had been made in previous years, with large sums of money withdrawn.
These transactions included £27,000 worth of diversion products, to allow branded footwear to be sold below RRP cost online and illegal money transfers worth up to £600,000 using dummy employee records.
Other findings also included £600,000 worth of exorted funds using fictitious purchase invoicing to buy three properties and £100,000 worth of diversion of online bank account balances.
Call to action
Hilene Henry said: “Most businesses think fraud is something which happens to others and not to themselves. This case was a massive call to action for all businesses to ensure that their systems are set up to protect them.
“It is easy for someone (or several people) to con business owners into thinking that they are acting in their best interests rather than stealing from them. this is the tip of the iceberg. As we speak a fraud is being committed in a small business in the North West every second of the day.
“The need to properly vet who you are employing and how you are controlling what they do, has never been more palpable.”
Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings has now begun to help recover some of the money stolen.