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Disciplinary: Accountant excluded after claiming false rail fares

The ICAEW has excluded an accountant who dishonestly claimed £164,368.80 in rail fares when she had received refunds.

21st Apr 2020
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The case centred on the events between February 2012 and September 2016, when Mrs ‘X’ was employed as a senior manager of a firm. During those years she claimed £164,368.80 in rail fares from Virgin Trains as expenses, without notifying her employer that she had received refunds for the tickets.

373 refunds

The British Transport Police contacted her firm after Virgin Trains raised concerns over the high volume of refunds claimed. After being contacted by the transport police, the firm looked into the use of the corporate card that Mrs ‘X’ was using and found a total of 373 refunds for £164,368.80 over four years.

Mrs ‘X’ was dismissed immediately after the firm found out about the false claims.

In her defence to the ICAEW disciplinary tribunal, Mrs ‘X’ said she asked for the refunds when she could not change the dates of the tickets as she no longer required them for her meetings in London.

However, she confirmed that she generally knew the dates in which she was going to stay in London, as she would book a hotel.

She also confirmed that she was aware of the refunds going in to her corporate Amex account and her credit card statements show she was using the card to make personal payments.

Debt problems

Mrs ‘X’ said her expenses and refunds were ‘out of control’ and that she should have stopped at the beginning but she got herself into a ‘vicious cycle’.

She confirmed she knew that claiming the tickets without submitting the refunds was fraudulent. She added that she intended to repay the money, but that she didn’t because she was struggling with debt problems. She had other difficult personal circumstances, including coping with a demanding job and raising a family.

The tribunal regarded the case as very serious and determined that the only penalty that it could impose was exclusion, although without a financial penalty because of Mrs ‘X’’s limited means.

Mrs ‘X’ had already said that, although she enjoyed her studies, she did not enjoy the job and had no intention ever going back into accountancy.

Chris Cope, solicitor/ANCS Ltd, comments:

This is a sad case. Clearly, Mrs X had many problems, not all of which are disclosed in the report. This makes reference to a number of ‘private’ disclosures, which clearly persuaded the tribunal that there were exceptional circumstances why Mrs X should not be named. No publicity of name in an exclusion case is very unusual.

If you are presently subject to a complaint, you can call the Accountants National Complaint Services Limited for advice (01769 581581) or visit their website here.

Replies (10)

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By 356B
21st Apr 2020 16:32

I'm glad the auditors were on the ball (not).

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By meadowsaw227
22nd Apr 2020 09:57

Odd sort of name Mrs X !

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Replying to meadowsaw227:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
22nd Apr 2020 11:00

Years ago she used to have a great job in Spot The Ball.

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By Mr J Andrews
22nd Apr 2020 10:12

A sad case as Chris Cope mentions. But the correlation that Mrs X CLEARLY had problems - disclosed , and not disclosed - within the report is not justified.
This cunning fraudster lied over and over again in a four year period , amassing some tax free £165K until the fraud was found out. The 'disclosed' defence is laughable.

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Replying to Mr J Andrews:
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By wilkotax
22nd Apr 2020 11:58

She's lost her job and her qualification and the personal problems, which the committee know about but we don't, will no doubt continue. Would you have her put in the stocks as well?

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Replying to wilkotax:
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By 356B
22nd Apr 2020 12:44

We weren't told what the court's punishment was, but I can guarantee it didn't include a residency in the stocks.Unless it was a suspended sentence.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
22nd Apr 2020 13:58

The article fails to mention several critical points you will pick up if you read the case:

1. Mrs X is repaying the stolen money over 7 years to the ex-employer

2. It would appear some minor costs of £4k have been awarded against her, but no fine. Even this seems a lot as she self-reported her crime and all the evidence was already supplied by her ex-employer so not sure what exactly the ICAEW did for 3 years. ie Hands were held up and wrong was admitted, the only question really was the punishment, and I cant see that anything other than expulsion here would be correct.

if you read the other cases, all of them are ancient. Its not clear why the ICAEW take so long over disciplinary matters.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By rememberscarborough
22nd Apr 2020 15:44

The longer it takes the more they get paid in fees and expenses. I mean, accountants never try to pad out jobs when the job is paid by the hour do they....

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By Justin Bryant
23rd Apr 2020 09:03

Compare & contrast how the SRA deals ruthlessly with relatively minor offences regardless of mental health issues:

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/exclusive-struck-off-junior-files-appe...

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By Calculatorboy
23rd Apr 2020 16:17

A Branson pickle

With the ICAEW sloth again virgin on the ridiculous

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