Sin Bin: Finance employee at major Scots law firm jailed over £180,000 embezzlement

SinBinA financial worker at one of Scotland’s top legal firms has been jailed for 21 months after embezzling almost £180,000.

Teresa Kidd, 44, a purchase ledger clerk at Maclay Murray and Spens LLP (MMS) took thousands from her employers between October 2006 and November 2011.

Ms Kidd, who had worked for the firm for over 20 years, tricked bosses into signing documents which they believed were for cash used to pay for advocates’ services.

However, they were actually signing off on money to be paid into accounts belonging to Ms Kidd and her former partner.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court last month, the grandmother from Cumbernauld admitted to embezzling £178,696 from the firm based at Glasgow’s George Square.

Sentencing Kidd yesterday, Sheriff John McCormick told her he took into consideration the fact that she had no previous convictions and embezzled money to fund her ex-partner’s gambling habit.

He added: “However, you were a longstanding and trusted employee of a firm of solicitors in Glasgow, you used that trust and experience to embezzle £178,000.

“You did so skilfully, repeatedly and over a period of approximately five years.”

At last month’s trial, the court had heard Kidd joined the company in 1987 and became a “trusted member of staff”, later being promoted to purchase ledger supervisor.

Lesley Chambers, procurator fiscal depute, told the court: “As such she was responsible for making payments to creditors, clients and other beneficiaries using money withdrawn from the corporate bank account of Maclay Murray and Spens.”

She explained that the cash paid out was detailed on a “purchase run document”, which included a list of creditors, their bank details and the amounts paid.

A financial controller signed this off and undertook random checks on outgoing payments.

A senior staff member would then ensure the amounts calculated matched the outgoing details.

Ms Chambers added: “Faculty services limited regularly provide the service of advocates to Maclay Murray and Spens and as such they would subsequently submit invoices to them.

“The invoices to them were typically for a four-figure sum although in this particular case sometimes they rose to £10,000 and £11,000.”

Ms Chambers explained that invoices submitted by Faculty Services Limited did not include their bank details and employees had to manually add the details.

Ms Kidd was able to exploit this fact and only used invoices relating to Faculty Services to embezzle the money.

To do this, she “double submitted” invoices to the firm. The first would have the correct bank details and so Faculty Services would be paid but the second invoice contained her personal bank details.

Ms Chambers added: “This practise of double submitting came to light on January 12, 2012.”

Ms Kidd accepted full responsibility.

It was said on her behalf that she has two children and a grandchild and “since the matter has come to light she has not been in employment”.

The court heard Kidd’s ex-partner was a heavy drinker and gambler and she was under “psychological pressure” from him.

Solicitor advocate Ross Brown, defending, said: “This is completely different to a person who undertook a calculated course of conduct for personal gain.

“This does not appear to be the case when dealing with Teresa Kidd.”

However, Sheriff John McCormick said at last month’s trial: “This was a complex fraud perpetrated repeatedly by a trusted employee at a firm of solicitors in Glasgow over a period of some five years.

A spokesperson for MMS said: “We can confirm unauthorised financial transactions were made by a member of the firm’s support staff during 2011. No client funds were involved.

“The irregularity was identified in January 2012, as a result of our internal controls, with additional measures subsequently introduced to prevent a recurrence.

“MMS has a zero tolerance policy for any behaviour of this nature and this employee was dismissed.”

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