An estate agency in Buckinghamshire has successfully completed a private prosecution against a former finance department worker who, it found, had defrauded his company of some £50,000.
Hadlands, which has a single branch in the town of Amersham and has been trading for over 30 years, brought the private prosecution against former employee Paul Cheriton.
During the court case – which was brought the estate agency firm’s MD after he became frustrated by the slow progress of police and the low likelihood of a successful prosecution – Cheriton pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation between August 1, 2019, and December 31, 2020 and was given a suspended prison sentence.
He is to carry out 250 hours of community service and was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.
Cheriton embezzled the cash after diverting funds intended for the estate agency firm’s landlords to bank accounts he had set up as part of the fraud.
“Many businesses have struggled during the pandemic and this sort of fraudulent activity puts people’s livelihoods at risk,” he said.
“We have ensured that our clients weren’t impacted by this fraud and all losses have been covered,” he added.
The estate agency also revealed that the fraud was made easier because, during the pandemic, staff within his finance and accounts department were working from home.
The solicitors handling the case is property industry specialist JMW Solicitors.