Farmfoods accountant jailed for £275k fraud, ordered to repay £77k

Farmfoods accountant jailed for £275k fraud, ordered to repay £77k

A company accountant jailed for defrauding hundreds of thousands of pounds from his employer over three years has been ordered to hand over £77,000 under proceeds of crime legislation.

John Brown, 61, of Cumbernauld, was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment in March 2023 for defrauding £275,000 from Farmfoods Ltd over a three-year period between 2015 and 2018.

A confiscation order for £77,000 was imposed on Mr Brown at Airdrie Sheriff Court, on 19 March, and the court ordered that this sum be paid to Farmfoods Ltd as compensation.

The order also states that he benefited from his crimes by £275,000.

The Crown has the power to extend the order against Mr Brown to seize money and assets he acquires in the future to pay back the full amount he made.

Sineidin Corrins, depute procurator fiscal for specialist casework, said: “Even after a conviction is secured, the Crown will continue to use proceeds of crime legislation to ensure that funds obtained through this type of crime are confiscated from perpetrators.

“Fraud is not a victimless crime. This was a brazen example of targeting a business and his employers, which affects employees, the business community and has a wider economic impact on Scotland as a whole.

“This case demonstrated the ability of prosecutors to effectively prepare and prosecute crime of this nature and should send a strong message about the potential consequences to others involved in this kind of criminal behaviour.”

Mr Brown was convicted after he admitted forging signatures on company cheques worth thousands of pounds which he made payable to himself.

During an earlier hearing, the court heard that Mr Brown was employed as a management accountant at Farmfoods’ head office in Cumbernauld but had no access to the company cheque book, which was restricted to five named directors.

His crimes came to light in June 2019 when company directors began an internal investigation following an alert by the Royal Bank of Scotland about suspicious activity on their account.

This investigation revealed that a number of cheques has been issued from the company account to the accused’s personal bank accounts.

The directors whose names appeared on the cheque confirmed they had not signed the cheques, and that their signatures had been falsified.

The court was told the handwriting on the cheque was identified as that of the accused.

A review of company accounts spreadsheets, managed by Mr Brown, revealed he had been writing off accruals and prepayments, preventing the cheques from flagging as suspicious through the firm’s internal processes.

A subsequent company investigation revealed that Mr Brown had cashed cheques to the value of £275,000.

The matter was then reported to the police and Mr Brown’s employment was terminated by Farmfoods Ltd in July 2019.

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