Financial controller jailed for £2.9m fraud

An accountant and financial controller from Essex has been jailed for nine years after stealing £2.9m from two different employers

Rhys Jackson of Chelmsford stole millions from two employers and also claimed for various bounce back loans, and received £150,000 from the covid-19 support scheme.

He was sentenced to a nine-year jail term at Chelmsford Crown Court, convicted of 14 offences, including theft, fraud, VAT evasion and acting as a shadow director when he was disqualified from acting as a director.  

Jackson worked as a financial controller at JC Watson Refrigeration Limited in Chelmsford from 2013 and during this time he had access to company bank accounts.

Over a four-year period from 2014 to 2018, he made 638 transfers of money from the company to 12 personal bank accounts which he had opened to perpetrate the fraud. He laid a paper trail of invoices from fake suppliers, managing to steal payments totalling £2,946,107. He used the money to pursue a lavish lifestyle and owned seven Audi cars at one point, the court heard.

JC Watson Refrigeration went bankrupt in 2018, after operating for 19 years, with £663,000 in debts and it could not continue to operate with the burden of debt and impact of the fraud on finances.

After the business failed, one of the JC directors set up a new company, JCW Mechanical Limited and hired Jackson. He continued with the fraudulent activity for nearly a year and stole a further £326,508.

This was the second time Jackson has been involved in a financial fraud; in 2007 he was jailed for seven years for a similar scam, and was banned from being a company director for 15 years.

Judge Alexander Mills told Jackson: ‘This was a sustained and deliberate abuse of trust just years after you had come out of prison for doing it before.

‘You offered help and support to get the second company on its feet then continued to take money from that’.

Steve Doyle, assistant director, fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: ‘This case began as a tax fraud investigation, but it quickly became clear that Jackson was targeting numerous victims.

‘Not only did he defraud the UK taxpayer by submitting false VAT claims, but he also stole eye-watering sums from his employer, as well as covid bounce back loan cash.

‘We will always follow the evidence to bring fraudsters to justice and ensure there is a level playing field for those who abide by the law.’

Confiscation proceedings will follow under a five-year Serious Crime Prevention Order.

Sara White |Editor, Accountancy Daily

Sara White is editor of Accountancy Daily...

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