Leeds accountant gambled away £850,000 of firm’s cash

AN ACCOUNTANT gambled away more than £850,000 from the company where he was paid to look after the finances.

A court heard Matthew Stevens, 30, abused the trust placed in him by his boss who “treated him like a son” after he took him on as a school leaver and trained him to be a book keeper.

Stevens plundered the firm’s accounts over a 13-month period to fund his addiction to online gambling.  Leeds Crown Court heard Stevens became a key customer of bookies Betfred during his offending.

 The court heard the case has been referred to the Gambling Commission over claims that the firm offered him free bets and days out to go gambling despite racking up huge losses. Stevens was jailed for three years, four months over the deception. The court heard Stevens was employed by business owner Mahmood Mazhar who trained him in accounting and book keeping. He became an in-house accountant for two of Mr Mahmood’s businesses – Core Telecommunications, based in Stanningley, and Norman Bar, on Call Lane, in Leeds city centre.

The court heard Stevens transferred money to his own accounts and covered it up with fictitious transactions.

Martin Robertshaw, prosecuting, said Mr Mahmood first became concerned when creditors began contacting him to say they had not been paid.

The victim was then contacted by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over an unpaid tax bill of £250,000. Stevens continued to lie and faked online documents which he claimed was proof that HMRC had made a mistake. Stevens, of Thorn Grove, Rothwell, pleaded guilty to two offences of theft from employer. John Bachelor, mitigating, said Stevens’s main betting account was with Betfred. The lawyer said Betfred would offer him free bets after he had lost large sums of money.

‘Our work at EPIC is showing that accountancy is a high risk occupation for problem gambling. We know that accountants are methodical and don’t like to lose money. Often accountants will make money in their early gambling days and be disciplined but once this gambling becomes problematic then they will chase losses and gamble as randomly as anyone else. Accountants often keep their gambling habits hidden for longer and for higher amounts often leading to much bigger problems on discovery.’

Paul Buck, CEO, EPIC Risk Management

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n/a. (2017). £850,000 of Leeds firm’s money gambled away Read more at: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/850-000-of-leeds-firm-s-money-gambled-away-1-7678824. Available: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/850-000-of-leeds-firm-s-money-gambled-away-1-7678824. Last accessed 9th April 2017.