Swindling company money would cost you jail time – that was the message Deputy Circuit Judge Neil Bidder QC sent out when he sentenced a financial director who stole over £800,000 to satisfy gambling addiction.
Siphoning Company Money
Lauren Farr, 34, of Spring Grove, Cwmbran, Monmouthshire, was sentenced to 32 months in prison after admitting to defrauding company We Fight Any Claim out of £825,751.60 between March 2016 and October 2019, while working at the firm as a senior executive.
The mother-of-two who had started at the company as a junior admin and worked her way up to the earning £70,000 per year financial director position, gambled around £1.5 million online, through operators such as Paddy Power and Betfred, police financial investigators who looked into her finances uncovered.
The court heard from prosecuting that Farr could not give a reasonable explanation as to why she started stealing money from the company. By the time the swindling act began, she was not in any financial trouble, and it just went out of control when desperation kicked in and she started gambling with the hope to win back amounts lost.
Farr confirmed she had used her knowledge as a chartered accountant to hide the amounts siphoned from the company’s account into her own, including fabricating and falsifying invoices from suppliers. The process was facilitated as Farr was in charge of handling purchases, creditors and reconciliation of accounts.
Besides for gambling, Farr used some of the stolen money which forced We Fight Any Claim to make employees redundant, to fund family holidays as well as a BWM X5.
Gambling Operators among the Usual Suspects
Farr’s defending, Ieuan Bennett, attempted to explain her behavior with childhood problems which seemed to have impacted her life as an adult, besides throwing the blame on the gambling industry.
“I really must voice one concern. Quite how those industries think people are able to find thousands and thousands of pounds every month to spend, heaven only knows. Looking at the figures, that is of course what she was doing time after time.”
Despite his deep concerns as to how operators allowed Farr to gamble on such a scale, Deputy Circuit Judge Neil Bidder QC, outlined that Farr had carried out a sophisticated well concealed fraud, by fabricating invoices and manipulating the accounts.
“You caused very substantial losses. It has had a substantial detrimental affect on the company and I am sure it has contributed to employees being made redundant. This was a case where you started gambling from perhaps trivial and harmless ways and became addicted.”
Deputy Circuit Judge Neil Bidder QC
The judge was convinced events in her childhood played their role into her becoming the gambling addict, yet sentenced Lauren Farr to 32 months in jail. After all, gambling addiction may be a health issue, but theft is punishable by law.