Where fraudulent employees obtain jobs by lying on their CVs, does the entirety of their earnings represent proceeds of crime? The Court of Appeal addressed that issue in the case of a man who became chair of two NHS trusts after submitting CVs that were little more than works of fiction (R v Andrewes).
When applying for a post as chief executive of a hospice, the man submitted a CV on which he claimed to have joint honours and master of philosophy degrees from Bristol University. He said that he had an MBA from Edinburgh University, a PhD from Plymouth University and an advanced diploma in accounting. None of that was true and he also lied extensively about his relevant experience.
His dishonesty went unnoticed and he was appointed to the position, which he held for 10 years. Styling himself as ‘Dr’, he subsequently applied for positions with the two trusts, rising to chair both of them. He was dismissed and prosecuted after the truth emerged. He later pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and one of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception and received a two-year jail term.
Following confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, a judge found that he had benefited from crime to the tune of over £640,000. That sum represented the majority of his earnings over the 10-year period after tax. His available assets – effectively everything that he had in the world – were assessed at £96,737 and a confiscation order was made in that sum.
Ruling on his appeal against that order, the Court noted that, but for his dishonesty, he would not have obtained any of the positions. On the basis that he had properly performed his duties, however, he had given full value for the remuneration he received. Through his work, he had already made the full restoration of the money he was paid and the order thus amounted to a double penalty.
Although he had dishonestly obtained all three posts, he would otherwise have been lawfully entitled to hold them. It was not asserted that he lived a criminal lifestyle and the purpose of the order was not to punish him but to divest him of the proceeds of his criminality.
In upholding the appeal and overturning the order, the Court ruled it disproportionate within the meaning of Section 6(5) of the Act.
Giving guidance for the future, it observed that prosecutors should think long and hard before seeking confiscation orders against those who obtain employment by lying on their CVs.
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