Embezzling secretary paid £75k to husband
And prosecutors claim she took half a million
A solicitors’ secretary who fiddled her firm’s books to overpay her husband by £75,000 dodged jail this week.
But Karen Humphries of McAlpine Court, Tullibody, is now to face proceeds of crime proceedings for more than £500,000 of allegedly ill-gotten gains.
The 47-year-old’s job included paying financial sales advisors working for mortgage and investment brokers Solicitors Financial Services Alloa.
The role included paying and recording the commission due to members of the freelance sales team, which included her 50-year-old husband John.
In July 2016 the company’s annual accounts, which were expected to show a healthy profit, suddenly swung into loss and auditors were called in.
Checks showed that between February 2013 and July 2016 Humphries had overpaid her husband by a total of £75,000.
She was confronted and resigned and police were called in.
Told that overpayments had been found, she replied after caution: “That would be correct.”
She pleaded guilty to embezzling £75,000. She had originally been charged with embezzling over £106,000.
Ruaraidh Ferguson, prosecuting, said: “Over the time Karen Humphries worked for SFS she exclusively had responsibility for making payments to the financial advisors, amongst making other transactions.
“The offence was discovered as a result of the annual accounts being checked in July 2016. Despite SFS expecting to have generated a profit, the accounts showed a loss and an investigation was launched.
“It revealed that one financial advisor had been significantly overpaid. This was John Humphries, the husband of the accused.
“He was the only financial advisor to be overpaid.”
Humphries was arrested at her home and taken to Falkirk Police Station.
Stirling Sheriff Court heard £54,000 had since been repaid.
Advocate Tony Lenehan, defending, said the £75,000 represented commission on sales that had not been booked and was a result of Humphries “running ahead of herself ”.
He said she was “a lady hitherto held in high regard by all who knew her who now finds herself in the shame of this situation”.
Sheriff David Mackie told Humphries she had pleaded guilty to a serious offence “which undoubtedly merits a custodial sentence”.
But he added: “That’s not going to happen today and I will explain why.”
He said Humphries had no previous convictions and caring responsibilities for her elderly parents.
He added: “There’s some force in the submission made on your behalf that this was an offence which you developed. It was something that grew and you lost control of, rather than a scheme which you devised at the outset.
“But, having started, it turned into a monster.”
He sentenced Humphries to 300 hours of unpaid community work, ordered her to repay her former employers the remaining £21,000 within 10 months, and placed her under supervision for 12 months.
Humphries, however, faces a massive claim that dwarfs the sum she admitted embezzling. Her plea triggered action under the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Crown is seeking a confiscation order for more than £500,000 allegedly taken by Humphries, who had worked for Solicitors’ Financial Servies for 13 years.
Mr Ferguson, the depute fiscal, said: “The recoverable amount relates to funds that the Crown allege comes from general criminal conduct.”
The proceeds of crime action was continued until November 12.
Leaving court Karen Humphries and husband John