Darren Upton, a well-respected and successful accountant in the IT sector, has been found guilty of fraud after it was revealed that he had taken £250,000 that had been put aside by his contractor clients for tax bills and paid it into his own account.
The Wakefield-based businessman of Upton & Co Accountants led his clients to believe that the money was going towards their corporation tax when in fact he was giving them the details of his own business account and not that of HM Revenue & Customs.
When clients queried the payee details with HMRC the accountant subsequently refunded the money back into their accounts.
The accountant was only caught out when his own staff became suspicious of his behaviour. After about 17 months of misleading the firm’s 800 or so clients, employees reported their boss to the authorities.
The 40-year-old appeared at Leeds Crown Court last week accused of15 charges of fraud with 23 other offences under consideration. The court heard that he had been carrying out the scam since January 2010 until June 2011, costing his clients and the taxman more than £500,000.
The prosecutor revealed that more than than 30 firms still have outstanding charges with HMRC as a result of Mr Upton’s actions.
Mr Upton claims that his dishonesty was prompted after he suffered a reduced income and bankruptcy the previous September. The defendant has also pleaded guilty to breaching an order last year that restricted him to using his firm’s finances for legitimate business purposes. It has not yet been reported when the man will be sentenced.