Consultant who lost job cleared of ‘honest mistake’

A MANAGEMENT consultant who mistakenly claimed expenses worth almost £45,000 has been cleared of fraud after a court heard that administration was not his strong suit.
Brian Chapman was sacked from his job at accountancy firm KPMG. Picture: PABrian Chapman was sacked from his job at accountancy firm KPMG. Picture: PA
Brian Chapman was sacked from his job at accountancy firm KPMG. Picture: PA

Brian Chapman, 55, was sacked from his £104,000 job at the accountancy firm KPMG after his bosses discovered the mistake in 2012.

He had double-claimed or even triple-claimed for international flights, luxury hotels and mobile bills over a five-year period, the Old Bailey heard.

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Chapman, who lives with his wife in Cumbernauld but worked in London, admitted he had made false claims during a police interview in December 2012. But he said it was an honest mistake and offered to repay the funds.

Chapman was cleared of fraud after an Old Bailey jury failed to reach a verdict in his retrial.

The prosecution said that a third trial would not be “in the public interest” after two juries were unable to reach a decision in the case.

Judge Rebecca Poulet said: “Mr Chapman made a mistake and has agreed to pay all of the money back. He has been through two trials now which is punishment in itself.

“I agree that to seek a third trial in this case would not be in the interests of justice.”

In a police interview, Chapman said he was not good at administration.

“My problem is I was not particularly diligent in keeping up with expenses,” he said.

“It wasn’t an aspect of the job I particularly enjoyed so I did have a situation where I had to play catch-up. I cannot refute the fact double claims were paid. I can refute the allegation that I did it dishonestly.

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“It doesn’t sit well with me that it was due to incompetence, but really it was. At no point did I sit down and think, you know I’m going to claim for something I have already claimed.”

Jurors heard that in 2011, Chapman paid for a five-day stay at a Hilton hotel on his corporate credit card and later the same day claimed the bill as an “out-of-pocket expense”.

This meant that KPMG paid the same amount twice over, the court heard.

Asked what he had spent the money on, he told officers: “It was just submerged into my regular activities. It has just gone into the confusion of my general life. I can accept I have been spending money which I was not entitled to – there is no getting away from that. Admin has never been my strong suit.

“I wasn’t on top of the admin. I have not deliberately set out to be dishonest.”

Chapman was recruited to KPMG as a manager in 1997 because of his expertise in investment performance, the court heard. He was promoted to director in 2005 and was involved in co-ordinating services in the UK, China, South Korea, Latin America and Europe.