A Cheltenham accountant who ran his firm with “a culture of dishonesty” and committed a series of multi-faceted frauds, has been excluded from the ICAEW.
As reported in the October ICAEW disciplinary orders, Bruce Pritchett, a member of ICAEW since 1986, was struck from the Institute’s rolls shortly after he was sentenced to a six year imprisonment.
Pritchett had maintained an unblemished disciplinary record since setting up his practice in 1991. But this clean track record was ruined in 2006 when Pritchett perpetrated the catalogue of fraud that would ultimately amount to £350,000.
Pritchett admitted to a litany of charges, which included stealing from clients, creating false documents to claim tax refunds, making false representations to avoid fiscal liabilities and claiming statutory sick pay for non-existent employees.
Pritchett’s actions came to light when his co-defendant contacted the police.
Summing up the case, the judge said: “There was no scam you would not undertake if it brought in money. The length and extent of your dishonesty was simply breathtaking.”
The case against Pritchett intensified when he sold his building plot after the court prohibited him from disposing any of his assets. The judge said Pritchett’s breach of this order displayed either breathtaking arrogance or remarkable stupidity.
While Pritchett could not attend the ICAEW tribunal due to his six year imprisonment, he did show contrition when writing to the ICAEW in September 2016. In the letter, Pritchett called his crimes regrettable and had no defence. He apologised for bringing the profession into disrepute. He concluded: “I am now paying the price of my crime which will be with me forever.”
Pritchett requested for the hearing to be held after his release. The investigation committee denied his request because of the overwhelming case against the defendant.
While the tribunal took into account Pritchett’s admission of guilt, it could not ignore his prolonged dishonesty committed on “a grand scale”. Therefore, exclusion was inevitable.
But this result came as no surprise for Pritchett, who accepted exclusion from the Institute as a ”foregone conclusion” in a letter to the Institute in December last year.
As a matter of principle, Pritchett must pay £4,649.50 to cover the cost of the proceedings.
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In another case, sole practitioner Richard Braysher was severely reprimanded and handed a fine of £6,600 and costs of £6,000 after he incorrectly prepared the accounts and corporation tax return of a limited company.
As an example, Braysher mistakenly added the director’s salary of £7,800 when the salary the director received and notified HMRC through RTI was £6,700. He also included motor expenses when there was no company car and understated income relating to that year by £16,350.
The tribunal said Braysher’s failure to apply basic accounting principles had been clearly illustrated. It added that Braysher’s errors had brought discredit to himself and the profession because of the incompetent and inefficient way he conducted his practice.
His case was further aggravated by another disciplinary order where he to comply with an Order made by a tribunal of the Disciplinary Committee. He was separately given a fine of £5,000 and severely reprimanded.
Braysher’s ill health was taken into consideration and he was urged to take immediate steps with a view to passing his practice to a successor as soon as possible.
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About Richard Hattersley
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