An experienced tax accountant has been sentenced to three years in prison after he committed fraud against a number of clients and the firm that employed him for 30 years.
Norfolk-based accountant Timothy Bash has pleaded guilty to fraud after he stole almost £250,000 from clients and betrayed his employers, accountancy firm Lovewell Blake.
While working at the firm for more than three decades, Bash offered tax advice and completed tax returns.
Norwich Crown Court heard how Bash used various methods to obtain fraudulent cheques from clients, including duping them into paying cheques to LB – assuming the initials stood for the firm, Lovewell Blake.
However, Bash would then alter the wording into his wife’s initials ‘L Bash’ and pay the cheques into their joint account. The court heard how Bash would then withdraw the money immediately from their account to avoid any suspicion from his wife. This continued for seven years.
Between October 2010 and March 2017, Bash swindled £207,107 from 25 to 30 clients and £40,477 from the firm and used the money to fuel a £1,000 a day gambling addiction.
The daughter of a recently deceased client rumbled Bash's scam after discovering a letter from the tax accountant requesting a £4,500 loan from her mother. The firm had no records of this financial agreement, which Bash had only paid back £500.
Bash confessed all in a meeting with his managers two days later, admitting that he had been committing fraud for a number of years. It was then that Lovewell Blake contacted the police.
Shortly after his confession, the tax manager was arrested and a police investigation confirmed the extent of his fraud against a number of clients and the accountancy firm.
Although Bash pleaded guilty to two fraud counts over a seven-year period, he admitted to the police that his fraudulent activity stretched back over a 12-year spell, and the money taken could amount to as much as £400,000.
Commenting after the sentencing, DC Mike Blowers said: “This was a complex investigation where Bash used his position to not only exploit his clients but he also betrayed the firm which had employed him for 30 years. In many of these cases Bash had been seeing his clients for many years, forming a close acquaintance and gaining their trust.”
Although Bash’s clients and firm were left shocked by his deceit, a Lovewell Blake spokesperson said they were glad the matter had reached its conclusion and that justice had been done.
“To succeed and function efficiently any organisation has to put faith and trust in members of staff. However, on this unfortunate occasion that has been misplaced by one person acting alone in a cunning and calculating way.
“Tim Bash worked in a highly specialised part of the firm mainly handling personal tax matters for individuals. We have been in correspondence with those individuals affected and will continue to take appropriate steps in this regard.”