PracticeAccounting FirmsThe corridors of power…

The corridors of power...

If recent surveys are to be believed, the UK is seeing a big rise in workplace fraud. I suspect that much of it is down to nervous management reporting things that would previously have been swept under the carpet.

But while company directors may have found themselves under the cosh, it is refreshing to see that the classic fraudster is alive and well.

The SFO has just slammed the jailhouse door on one Ian Burns, a supposed investment adviser. Older readers may recall Burns, now 55, from his days playing football for Everton FC.

Burns had gone into partnership with a Frenchman, running something called KB Securities, registered in Luxembourg. KB raised more than £3m from investors seeking high returns from so-called bank trading programmes.

Burns and his associate embarked on a spending spree that would have put Imelda Marcos to shame.

More than £1.5m was frittered away in nine months. Burns spent his share on private jet hire and family outings to the Ritz. Some £100,000 was spent on two BMWs for Burns and his son and two Fiats for his wife and daughter.

Burns clearly saw himself in the cast from Footballers’ Wives, but the party had to end eventually. Attempts were underway to net another £5m from investors when the SFO moved in.

It was fun while it lasted. Burns was convicted of fraud and sentenced to three and a half years in prison. Sentencing was delayed for five months because he was suffering from depression.

You’d be depressed too. His French partner has not been charged because France does not extradite its own nationals.

The case is a salutary reminder that you can never be too careful when handing over your money to someone else.

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