Wealthy landowners sue Edinburgh property consultant for nearly £1 million after bookkeeper scam

WEALTHY landowners are suing a leading Capital property consultant after its bookkeeper ran off with their cash, the Evening News can reveal.

The Mayshiel Estate in East Lothian. Pic: Ian Rutherford
The Mayshiel Estate in East Lothian. Pic: Ian Rutherford

Matthew Varley, 44, admitted earlier this month embezzling more than £221,000 over five years from sporting estates handled by CKD Galbraith.

George Street-based Galbraith repaid stolen money but now three of its clients are coming after the firm for nearly £1m plus expenses claiming more is owed, breach of contract and poor record keeping.

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Papers lodged at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on behalf of the clients read: “Since the fraud came to light the defender has restored some of the pursuer’s funds.

“The pursuer believes and avers that there is a shortfall between what the defender has and should have paid.”

Varley admitted siphoning off the money from estates into bank accounts in his and his wife’s names between 2010 and 2015 before cooking the books to cover up his crime.

Blaming a drinking and gambling problem as well as depression, he pled guilty to embezzlement and will be sentenced next month.

He quit Galbraith’s Inverness office in June 2015 after which discrepancies were found and clients told of the fraud.

Inverness Sheriff Court heard that Galbraith rumbled Varley’s scam after finding account entries with no supporting paperwork and made-up invoices.

Sheriff David Sutherland was told by defence lawyer Matthew O’Neill that all the funds had since been repaid after his client sold a property in London.

The three clients pursuing Galbraith look after some of the most prestigious sporting estates in Scotland.

They include Dulce Maria de Barros Marchi Packard – who lives in a plush Belgravia townhouse and owns the Mayshiel Estate in East Lothian.

Brazilian-born wife of late financier Fred Packard, she is pursuing Galbraith for a potential £260,000 in total.

It consists of £130,000 plus another £130,000 if they fail to produce accurate statements relating to her account to prove how much was stolen.

Her daughter, Antonia, graduated from Edinburgh University and had a rumoured fling with Prince Harry before he met wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

Another is Millden, a grouse shooting range in Angus bought by investment banker Richard Hanson in 2004. Millden is pursuing Galbraith for a potential £260,000 in total.

The third client is Leadhills Sporting in Lanarkshire – pursuing Galbraith for a potential £460,000.

A spokesman for Galbraith said: “As was stated in recent criminal proceedings in Inverness, a former member of staff pled guilty to embezzling money from client accounts. These actions were discovered by the firm and reported to the police. It is the firm’s position that those clients affected were fully reimbursed by us for the sums embezzled when we uncovered the theft. In view of ongoing proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Both Frederick Street-based lawyers Balfour and Manson, acting for the three pursuers, and their clients refused to comment.