KPMG director jailed for £500,000 fraud

A director of the global accountancy firm KPMG was jailed for four years yesterday after trying to buy his second wife happiness with more than £500,000 in fraudulent expenses.

Andrew Wetherall said that when the ex-partner of his wife Catherine tried to cut her maintenance payments he was worried her lifestyle would suffer. Desperate to avoid another round of marital tension and a possible divorce, he faked his expenses to pay for expensive watches, top-of-the range cars and five-star holidays. But he was careful to keep fraudulent claims under £5,000 to escape the need for authorisation.

Southwark Crown Court heard that Mr Wetherall, 49, of St Albans, Hertfordshire, stole £545,620 between September 2002 and January 2007.

He billed for imaginary flights worth nearly £500,000, almost half of which were backed by fake documents. He also altered bills, created false invoices, submitted multiple claims for legitimate expenses, and dressed up luxury holidays with his wife as business trips.

But last year a colleague became suspicious about his air travel claims and started asking questions.

The executive, who was suspended in February last year, initially tried to explain his dishonesty away by claiming he had made a simple mistake. He even offered to repay £18,000, but an investigation was launched. During a subsequent disciplinary hearing, Wetherall confessed and told managers at the top accountancy company he would repay £305,000. More money followed until he had paid back £337,228.60, blaming the £200,000 shortfall on his lifestyle. He has subsequently returned all the money.