Accountant stole client’s cash to live ‘high life’

An accountant, who stole more than a million pounds from an Italian insurance
company to live the ‘high-life’, has been jailed for five years.

Ian Chaplin, who worked for accountants Fraser Russell, transferred money
into his own bank account to buy a flat in the UK and two homes in Spain.

The 42-year-old respected former councillor of Tandridge, Surrey, plundered
amounts ranging from £2,000 to £174,000 using an electronic accounting system.

The fraud was only detected when the insurance company, Itaire International,
was bought out by another company who discovered that £1.3m had vanished.

Chaplin admitted 18 counts of theft and asked that a further 80 similar
offences be taken into consideration when being sentenced. During the trial at
Hove Crown Court, Sussex, he confessed that the actual amount stolen may have
been even higher.

Rufus Stilgoe, prosecuting, told the court: ‘He also used money to buy a flat
in Hove and to give to a rugby club in Kings Cross with which he had a

Chaplin co-operated fully with police during the investigation and his assets
were sold to repay £756,000 of the debt. Patrick Gibbs, defending, told the
court: ‘By the end of this process he will have absolutely nothing. He did not
seek to hide what he had done. He did not attempt to cling onto any of the

‘This is classically compulsive behaviour, in that it began with relatively
small amounts and escalated over time to larger sums to a final amount difficult
to equate to anything in his hands.’

Jailing Chaplin, Judge Guy Anthony told him: ‘Your reputation is in tatters.
You will never be able to obtain employment in the same or any similar field,
but for that you have only yourself to blame.’

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