A 40-year-old woman who stole a total of around £115,000 from two companies she worked for has been sentenced to 53 months in prison.
Alaska Freeman, of Derby Road, Radford, appeared at Nottingham Crown Court today (Wednesday 3 October) for sentencing, having pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud on 27 June, 2018.
Freeman was arrested in February 2016 after her employer Maun Industries Ltd, of Hamilton Road, Sutton-in-Ashfield, reported serious fraud allegations against her.
She joined the company in October 2012 as assistant management accountant having submitted an impressive CV for the role through a recruitment agency. Her apparent abilities in this role led to her being promoted to the senior position of management accountant. In addition, she was further promoted to general manager of a second company Maun purchased in 2013, Ketchum Manufacturing Company Ltd, and became treasurer of a related trade association (ALIDMA).
Following her supposed success in managing her new roles she was awarded a number of bonuses and salary increases. She took on ever increasing responsibilities and was even trusted to solely manage Maun and Ketchum while Managing Director and owner of the business, Eddie Thomas were on an extended business trip.
However, throughout her employment she was conning the companies and the trade association, deceiving both management and professional advisers. She inflated her own pay, made personal purchases on company credit cards, transferred funds into her own bank accounts and stole petty cash, totalling around £101,000.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] She also lied about the accountancy qualifications she had. [/perfectpullquote]
She covered her tracks through false accounting, but Freeman’s fraudulent activity was finally exposed in August 2015 when HMRC informed Mr Thomas that the company was owing in excess of £100,000 in unpaid NI and PAYE contributions.
She was immediately suspended while an internal investigation was undertaken. This revealed further significant discrepancies in her accounting and she was dismissed for gross misconduct.
However, this did not put a stop to Freeman’s fraudulent activity. After she was bailed in February 2016 and still being investigated, she successfully applied for a job as Financial Controller at Nexor Limited in Nottingham. She left after just five months when the company found that she was defrauding them and reported it to police. In her role, she was authorised to make purchases using company credit cards and was found to have purchased a large amount of personal items, including jewellery, clothing, computer equipment and beauty products totalling more than £3,200. She’d also transferred more than £10,000 from the company into her personal bank account. She’d also lied on her CV and failed to disclose her arrest.
Financial investigator Vincent Carter said: “This has been a long investigation and Nottinghamshire Police Financial Investigation Unit has worked hard to gather financial accounts, witness statements and other evidence to expose the full extent of Freeman’s criminal conduct over a number of years. We are glad that she’s now been held to account and are pleased with the sentencing result that has brought closure to the companies in particular management and their staff all who have suffered severely financially as a result of her actions. We’d like to thank the Nottinghamshire based companies for the way they worked with us on this case, having reported an incident that has had grave financial and integrity implications within their respective industries. They have being professional and supportive of the police action throughout and we hope that they can now put this behind them.”
Eddie Thomas of Maun Industries Ltd commented: “It has been a difficult three years since these deceptions were uncovered. Never in my long business career have I ever experienced such an utter betrayal of trust and blatant deceit. The financial impact on Maun Industries of these crimes was severe and it has taken three years hard work by our dedicated employees for the business to recover and again be successful. My determination to pursue justice was absolute even in the face of her protestations of innocence right up to the morning of the trial date.
“In this respect I must give my heartfelt thanks to FI Carter and his team for the meticulous investigation uncovering frauds that I didn’t know existed and providing the Crown Prosecution Service with the detailed evidence to charge.”