ICAEW member Simon Olver was excluded from the profession this month after being convicted on two counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of making an article for use in fraud. Oliver was also made to pay costs of £3,900.
The incident itself dates back to July 2019, when Olver was the head of finance at the London branch of an organisation. He took advantage of his position to shift two sums of money directly from the organisation’s account into his own personal account - £494,044, and £2,477,122.
Olver then attempted to transfer a third sum of money totalling £1,550,000 into his account.
At Southwark Crown Court in May 2020, Olver entered guilty pleas for the attempts at stealing money from the firm. In June, the disgraced finance executive was sentenced to 54-months’ imprisonment.
The ICAEW discinplinary report on the case states that in his sentencing remarks, Judge Perrins explained that the evidence available from the case indicated that Olver had used the money he gained to “embark upon an extravagant spending spree”.
Olver put in an offer on a house valued at £2.6m and was said to have flashed his phone to estate agents to show his bank balance as proof that he could effectively purchase the property in cash.
Olver also bought a watch for just under £70,000 and put down deposits on two cars worth in the region of £400,000.
He didn’t stop there. Olver also sought out expensive pieces of jewellery including a pendant for over £15,000, a ring for £19,000 and a diamond pendant for nearly £23,000.
The report states that of the almost £3m that Olver fraudulently obtained, about £250,000 was never recovered.
The disciplinary decision
Olver did not appear at his hearing due to his custodial sentence. The institute's disciplinary team tried extensively to notify him of its proceedings by sending letters to his last known addresses and attempting to locate him through the ‘Find a Prisoner Service’, all of which proved fruitless.
The ICAEW disciplinary hearing proceeded without him.
The tribunal found the case against Olver proved. Under disciplinary byelaws, he was liable to sanctions as a result of having been convicted of an indictable offence.
The sentencing order
The offences committed by Olver involved very serious dishonesty, so an exclusion was “the only appropriate penalty”, the institute concluded. It aslo assessed Olver for £3,900 in costs for his actions.
Chris Cope, consultant with Blake Morgan LLP, solicitors, comments:
We know very little about this case other than that Mr Olver was the head of finance at an organisation in London and that in or about July 2019 he stole £2.97m, most of which he spent on himself. The money was subsequently recovered, apart from approximately £250,000.
As he did not participate in either the investigation or the disciplinary process at the ICAEW, we know nothing about the background to the case or why he did it.
The disciplinary proceedings took place fairly swiftly, following sentencing at the Southwark Crown Court in June 2020. Exclusion from membership was inevitable. With regard to the costs of £3,900, the ICAEW will attempt to recover these, no doubt following Mr Olver’s release from prison, which is likely to take place towards the end of next year. The institute will firstly have to establish his whereabouts and will then take proceedings in order to secure judgment for the costs if these remain unpaid at that time.