James Munroe – a director responsible for UK accounts at US publishers McGraw-Hill – created an extravagant parallel life involving racing cars, champagne breakfasts and trips on Concorde after becoming ‘disillusioned with his job’, The Times reported.
The accountant of Almond Close in Wokingham, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of transferring funds by deception and three of procuring the execution of a valuable security.
Munroe set up front companies and billed his employers for bogus work worth £2,885,722 over four years in order to fund his fantasy, Reading Crown Court heard.
The £51,000-a year chief accountant hired a London publicity firm, the model Caprice and pop singer Paul Young, to promote his racing team.
McGraw-Hill became suspicious when he was interviewed on motorsport television shows, such as BBC2’s The Car’s the Star, and was profiled by the lads magazine Boys Toys coupled with frequent requests for sick leave.
The US company discovered the fraud only after Munroe claimed he needed time off to visit his son in Great Ormond Street hospital in London. His colleagues contacted the hospital to send flowers to his son and was told it had no records of the boy’s admission.
The publishers then uncovered 17 unauthorised payments made to his own companies, ranging from £46,412.50 to £549,312.50.
Munroe, aged 36, told the police he used his position to take advantage of the system because he wanted to ‘step up’ in the world, said Sally Howells for the prosecution.
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