Former head of a charity has been found guilty of defrauding the organisation out of more than £700,000.
Mr. Briers, former charity chief of Age Concern South Tyneside was found guilty of defrauding the organisation by using fake invoices and banked authorisation bonus and pension payments from January 2007 to August 2015.
Mr. Briers denied three accounts of fraud by abuse of position. He will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court in May.
Briers, who at one time earned almost £6,000 per month, were thought to have stolen a total of £708,499. He paid 60 fraudulent cheques amounting to £433,236 into his bank account as well as awarding himself a further £105,560 via 12 unauthorised bonuses and £169,703 through 19 unauthorised top-ups payments to his pension.
The court heard Briers, was suspended from his post when the financial officer Mr. Cassidy, noticed a supporting document submitted by Briers looked fraudulent.
Mr Cassidy told jurors, 'the reason it caused me concern, the reason it came so quickly to mind, was the fact the VAT was wrong.'
The court heard investigators found templates of blank invoices for firms the organisation had previously dealt with after Briers' office was searched.
They were also a number of additional invoices submitted which were not sequentially numbered and had no supporting documentation to validate the amounts paid.
Mr. Briers claimed he had banked cheques as reimbursement for paying suppliers from his own personal account and savings and stated the original invoices had all been lost and were replaced by substitute invoices.
Briers used fake invoices and even fraudulent minutes of board meetings in a bid to cover his tracks. He told jurors, that he was entitled to the payments and bonuses that went into his bank and that he also used the account to pay cash for services used by the charity.
Judge Tim Gittins has been supplied with information from the charity and those who have been affected by the fraud. Judge Gittins remanded Briers in custody and told him to prepare for a ‘significant’ prison sentence.
Judge Gittins warned: "You have been convicted by the jury, on clear and compelling evidence, of a significant fraud on a charity you were employed to protect the financial interests of."
The defence had made an application for Briers to be allowed bail until the sentence hearing arguments that Briers suffers health problems, including sleep apnoea, but it was denied.
Prosecutor Anthony Dunne told the court: "The defendant is charged with three offences of fraud by abuse of position. He made most of those payments simply by writing out cheques to himself. He then covered his tracks by pretending that those fraudulent payments were either payments to companies who had supplied good and services to Age Concern or bonus payments that were approved by the charity's board of trustees or special payments, also agreed by the board, or a sub-committee of the board."
The court heard the money was taken from both branches of the organisation – one being the charity, which he was chief executive of, and the other was the trading company, which he was secretary of.
The charity has stated "We are deeply saddened by this serious breach of trust and highly conscious of how much more might have been done by the local charity to help older people in the South Tyneside area if it had not happened."
Hardeep Dhaliwal, Crime Director at Duncan Lewis, commenting on these developments, notes:
“Offences of fraud generally by their very nature are investigated by the authorities in a robust and meticulous manner.
"When aggravating features such as an abuse of trust/ position, as in this case, are added to the equation the stakes for the accused become somewhat higher necessitating even more so the need for specialist defence representation.”
Hardeep Dhaliwal, Duncan Lewis Crime Director and solicitor is a Recommended Lawyer in the Legal 500, 2017 Edition, for fraud defence matters. He has extensive experience in low-level fraud cases up to serious fraud matters, including individual fraud, forgery, conspiracy to defraud and immigration fraud.
For expert advice on fraud offences, call criminal defence solicitor Hardeep Dhaliwal on 020 7275 2029 or email him on email@example.com.
Duncan Lewis Crime and Fraud Solicitors
Duncan Lewis has a significant practice defending clients in serious and complex criminal cases. We continue to deal with full range of criminal offences from police station representation up to Crown Court trials, appeals and judicial review.
Duncan Lewis' Crime Department has been recognised as a Top Tier and recommended criminal defence practice by Chambers UK 2018 and the Legal 500 2017 Edition.
Contact Duncan Lewis Crime department on 0333 772 0409 for expert legal advice. For our 24 hour service call Duncan Lewis’ emergency assistance on 0333 772 0607.