‘Family man’ swindled employer out of £6.7m before gambling it away on the stock market

A “family man” swindled the company he worker for out of £6.7m before he gambled it away on the stock market.

Despite already earning £80,000 per year, financial controller James Hall transferred himself millions from the cash reserves of the company he worked for to “secure the financial security of his wife and children”.

Bolton Crown Court heard today that 49-year-olds then lost most of the money gambling on the FTSE 100 index.

The Bolton dad had been employed with shopfitting business Vale UK since 1996

He had become good friends with the managing director Paul Henerty, prosecution barrister Fiona McNeill told the court, the Manchester Evening News reports.

The dad-of-two was sentenced at Bolton Crown Court

Mr Henerty described Hall as a “great asset to the company”, said he “trusted him implicitly”, and had even planned on making him a director.

When the business moved to electronic banking in 2007, Hall was authorized to pay bills and make transfers online.

He was also responsible for authorizing the company’s expenses.

In 2012, Hall approached Mr Henerty to ask for a loan of £250,000 to help buy a better house closer to his daughter’s school.

Mr Henerty agreed but following this, Hall transferred himself £6.7 million over the next three years.

His fraud was uncovered during an accounting audit in March 2015.

When confronted, Hall said that he had taken the money and gambled it on the FTSE 100 to “secure the financial security of his wife and children” but that he had “very little left”.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Henerty said that he feels “anxious and physically sick” when he thinks about the amount of money that was taken.

He added that he “couldn’t believe it” and now “finds it difficult” to trust those around him.

Despite stealing millions over three years, Hall “thought it was ridiculous” when he was fired by the company, defense barrister Andrew Nuttall told the court.

Mr Nuttall described Hall as a family man with two daughters and said that his offending was whilst in the grips of a serious gambling addiction.

He said: “He was thinking on a completely different plane than what you’d expect rational people to think.

“Now, he struggles to explain it himself and how he could have possibly acted in the way he did

“It was a shattering incident for the company and him on a mental basis. He continues to struggle with how he got himself into a thinking pattern that was totally false.

“He seemed to have fooled himself rather like Professor Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide, who used to say ‘everything turns out for the best’.

“It hasn’t and now he must pay the piper.”

Judge Tom Gilbart jailed Hall, of Eastgrove Avenue, Sharples, for six years.

He had previously pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud.

Judge Gilbart said: “Before you decided to involve yourself in these matters, you were a man of impeccable character.

“This was extremely serious criminality. You were given a position of trust by this company and you abused that trust over a long period.

“The sums of money which you took are staggering.”

Following his sentencing, Detective Constable Claire Taylor of Merseyside Police said: “This fraud placed a family-run business under significant financial pressure, causing distress and worry to all employees and their loved ones.

“That such an impact would be caused was clearly lost on Hall, and he will now be left to consider the full consequences of his actions while he serves his jail time.

“We welcome that, following an extensive and complex police investigation, Hall is now behind bars.

“Fraud can and does devastate individuals and businesses, and thankfully Hall has now been prevented from causing any more harm.

“I hope that Hall’s sentencing today sends a clear message about how seriously police and the courts take such offenses.

“To anyone who would think that defrauding a company is acceptable: we will investigate you and bring you to justice.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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