St Albans accountancy director facing threat of jail

PUBLISHED: 19:42 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:24 06 May 2010

Pics Show Andrew Wetherall leaving Southwark Crown court in London today.

Pics Show Andrew Wetherall leaving Southwark Crown court in London today.

FUNDING his wife s lavish lifestyle by defrauding a top international accountancy firm out of over half a million pounds could cost a St Albans man his freedom. Andrew Wetherall, 49, of Christchurch Close, was warned at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday th

FUNDING his wife's lavish lifestyle by defrauding a top international accountancy firm out of over half a million pounds could cost a St Albans man his freedom.

Andrew Wetherall, 49, of Christchurch Close, was warned at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday that he faces jail over the false expense claims he made to bosses at KPMG where he was a director.

Over a five year period he put in bogus claims so he could buy flash cars, designer watches, computer equipment and five-star holidays.

He was already earning a six figure salary when he carried out the scam which he later told police was because he could not cope with the "financial expectations" of his second wife Catherine.

She required at least £15,000 a month and he did not want her "lifestyle to suffer".

The court heard that Wetherall bumped up his earnings by making hundreds of claims for flights he never took and submitting receipts for non-existent items. He pretended family holidays and expensive meals were all part of his business expenditure.

The claims were made between 2002 and 2008 and in total Wetherall claimed £545,620.

Investigations

When a colleague began to question claims he had made for air travel, he immediately offered to repay £18,000 but investigations continued and revealed the extent of the scam.

He was suspended in February and during a disciplinary hearing owned up and handed bosses a cheque for £305,000. He explained he had put most of the money in a savings account and the shortfall was due to paying for his lifestyle which he attributed to legal costs from his divorce from his first wife, the purchase of a £60,000 vehicle for himself and the part payment of £14,000 for a car for his current wife.

Wetherall claimed personal expenditure including holidays to Singapore and Thailand, a £4,000 watch, a £2,000 camera and a high value computer as business expenditure.

He knew that if he claimed for less than £5,000 at a time no questions would be asked.

Samantha Hatt, prosecuting, said he claimed his financial problems began when his second wife's ex-husband tried to reduce maintenance payments to her. He didn't want to go through a second divorce so he started up the fraud.

Wetherall admitted false accounting between September 2002 and January 2007 and fraud between January 2007 and February 2008. Sentencing was adjourned until next month.


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