Oil firm’s finance chief stole £1.3 million to fund lavish lifestyle

Jacqueline McPhie pleaded guilty to embezzlement. Picture: Lesley Donald
Jacqueline McPhie pleaded guilty to embezzlement. Picture: Lesley Donald

An oil industry executive with a previous conviction for embezzlement stole more than £1.3 million from her employers, a court heard on Tuesday.

Jacqueline McPhie, 46, pocketed £1,376,935 while working as vice-president for finance at Altus Intervention in Aberdeen between March 2013 and April 2014.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard today that McPhie earned £146,848 a year from the firm, which supplies equipment for North Sea projects. But her salary did not satisfy her cravings for an extravagant lifestyle, and she hatched a plan to divert funds to subsidise her expensive choices.

Prosecution lawyer Alison Di Rollo told the court that McPhie spent £80,000 buying a Range Rover Sport car. She also paid between £60,000 to £70,000 for a new garage and driveway and £30,000 for a summer house in her garden. McPhie also spent £52,000 on a new kitchen and spent the rest of the money on foreign holidays and designer clothes.

McPhie, who currently lives with her parents in a caravan in Arbroath, now faces proceeds of crime action and the possibility of a jail sentence.

The story emerged after McPhie pleaded guilty to a charge of embezzlement before judge Lady Wise.

Deferring sentence for the court to obtain background reports, the judge said: “You have pleaded guilty to extremely serious offences.”

On Tuesday, Ms Di Rollo told the court McPhie had one previous conviction for embezzlement. She was given community service and probation in October 2000 after pleading guilty at Paisley Sheriff Court.

On that occasion, she was then living in Balloch, West Dunbartonshire, and took £250,000 while working as a finance manager with Inchinnan-based Inventec over a seven-day period in 1999.

Ms Di Rollo told the court that McPhie had full oversight of Altus’ finances when she started working for the company in Aberdeen.

She said: “The accused’s role as VP finance entailed her supervising the finance team, consisting of two finance managers, eight account assistants and a number of cost and credit controllers.”

Police began an investigation into McPhie’s activities in 2014. Detectives discovered she had faked invoices and faked emails from senior Altus Intervention staff which authorised payments to McPhie. The court heard that police detained McPhie on 2 June, 2014 and she confessed what she had done.

Defence advocate Tony Lenehan told the court that his client was involved in a “bitter” divorce from her husband and that she was now living in a caravan in Arbroath. He said he would deliver his plea of mitigation at McPhie’s next court appearance on 31 May.