Ex ACCA Accountant jailed for 6 years for fraud
Darren Upton, contractor accountant has been jailed for 6 years for stealing client money.
Latest in a series of misdeeds. First he was struck off by ACCA for practicing without a practicing certificate. Then he got involved in an illegal currency investment scam that lost over a million pounds for the investors, finally he starting stealing his client's tax money.
The tax money theft is particularly interesting as he did it by submitting zero corporation tax returns so HMRC didn't know money was due, and then he got his clients to pay their tax money to him by giving them his bank account sort code and account number instead of HMRCs. In some cases, where the client paid directly, HMRC account showed money paid but not due and he asked HMRC to refund it directly to him. Client's ended up out of pocket because HMRC went after client for the tax money so they had to pay it twice.
Surely this is something that HMRC need to look at if they insist on moving forward with agent self serve and more online development all of which leaves the door wide open for dodgy agents.
We desperately need to end the old qualified versus unqualified argument, and everyone work together to make sure that the word "accountant" is protected, and that HMRC only deal with vetted agents. That means "regulation" of the accountancy profession by bodies other than ACCA, ICAEW - i.e. either HMRC or another governmental body, perhaps FSA. And by "protected" I don't mean that it is the preserve of the accountancy bodies, but that anyone can be registered as an "accountant", qualified or not, but that everyone must maintain standards, i.e. PI insurance, CPD, client compensation scheme, practice regulation and supervision, etc.