Lathams forger narrowly escapes jail

An unqualified accountant ‘snowed under’ by the pressure of work forged vital insolvency documents, costing his employers up to £100,000.

Alistair Walters was ordered to complete the maximum 240 hours community service by London’s Southwark Crown Court last week after causing chaos and confusion in a ‘catalogue of dishonesty’ at the firm Latham Crossley and Davis.

Working in the firm’s personal insolvency department and despite being given ‘appropriate supervision’, Walters was supposed to organise individual voluntary agreements in insolvency for clients.

Instead he forged the papers needed by three clients. Two of the bogus orders were later submitted to Bristol County Court, and clerks at the Royal Courts of Justice spent hours checking Walters’ work.

Walters admitted one charge of copying a false instrument and six charges of using a copy of a false instrument with intent to deceive.

He was spared a jail sentence after Judge Christopher Elwen said one of Walters’ tasks was to organise voluntary arrangements on ‘behalf of and for the benefit of people in financial difficulty who choose to consult the firm’. He said if the courts been deceived and the bogus papers had been ‘more sophisticated’, he would have had ‘no hesitation’ in imposing a custodial sentence.

Michael Logsdon, prosecuting, said Lathams had been subjected to investigations by the English ICA and the DTI.

The firm is estimated to have lost up to £100,000 by way of returned fees, having to do work for free, and through the bad publicity the affair generated.

Related reading

Life Belt with Computer Folders
HMRC banknotes