Jail Time for Scots book-keeper

This week saw the culmination of a criminal case against a Scots book-keeper who fed an Internet gambling obsession by stealing almost a million pounds sterling from his employers (see previous InfoPowa reports) last year.

Twenty-six-year-old Chris Proudfoot was convicted of taking GBP 936 452.32 over three years to pay off his gambling and credit card debts, and sentenced to 40 months in jail. None of the cash has been recovered.

Prosecutor Ron Phillips told Inverness Sheriff Court that the scale of Proudfoot's breach of trust was "monumental" and unprecedented. "There has never been a dishonesty of this scale which has come before a sheriff court for sentencing," he claimed

Proudfoot was such a trusted employee at Inverness telecoms firm HIGHnet that he was given sole control of the company's accounts and banking, and he was found to have used his privileged position to steal from the business more than 50 times since 2004. Evidence showed that he used bogus invoices to steal GBP 260 000 in the first year, GBP 390 000 in the second and GBP 277 000 in the third. The embezzeler did not even know the extent of his thefts until the investigating police officers told him after his arrest.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Ian Abercrombie told Proudfoot he should have gone to jail for 5 years, but his sentence was reduced because he'd pleaded guilty, had shown remorse and was basically a first offender.

Dave Siegel, managing director of HIGHnet, said only the company's strong finances had saved Proudfoot's workmates from losing their jobs because of the huge cost of his fraud.

"We feel the sentence is appropriate. My family and our employees have worked extremely hard over 15 years to grow HIGHnet. This individual abused his position of trust and responsibility with no regard for the company or his former colleagues," he added.

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