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Sole trader wins back £700,000 from fraudulent accountant

A sole trader has won his claim for repayment of more than £700,000 that had fraudulently been taken from his bank account by his accountant.

The court heard that the trader had retained the accountant's services in 2007 and trusted the financial side of the business to him, including control of the bank account and the bookkeeping.

In 2011, the trader got divorced and so his finances came under close scrutiny. It became apparent that his business accounts were inaccurate, with missing sums of money that the accountant failed to explain.

The trader terminated his retainer in 2012 and took legal action, claiming that the accountant had breached his fiduciary duty and become unduly enriched. It transpired that a total of £935,283 had been paid from the business to the accountant.

The trader sought repayment of £727,113, having deducted what he believed he had contractually agreed to pay the accountant during his retainer. The accountant stated that he was retained for a much larger amount.

The court found in favour of the trader. He had been an honest, impressive witness, whereas the accountant's evidence had been unreliable and frequently dishonest.

The trader had shown that the accountant had fraudulently misappropriated money. The accountant had clearly been in a fiduciary relationship with the trader, had been unjustly enriched at his expense and had no defence.

The accountant was ordered to repay the £727,113 in full.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any matter relating professional negligence and protecting your business.