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‘Greedy’ Downe finance director stole £6million to fund “lavish lifestyle”

PUBLISHED: 15:43 26 May 2017

Michael Collins

Michael Collins

Archant

He was jailed on Friday

The finance director of a London-based insurer has been jailed for stealing £6million over the course of 16 years.

Michael Collins, 66, of Downe in Bromley was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday and has been jailed for five years and four months as well as being banned from becoming a company director for 10 years.

He had previously admitted fraud by abuse of position of trust and false accounting, after Met’s Fraud Squad started an investigation in March last year.

Accounts analysis of The Mediterranean Insurance and Reinsurance Company Limited’ (MedRe), where Collins was executive finance director, revealed an unsupported debt of £6million which could be attributed to a number of cheques deposited into Collins’ personal bank accounts.

The fraud covered his tracks by filling false entries into a ledger and using the phrase “other debtors” to describe the cheque deposits to his own bank accounts.

In December 2015, MedRe was placed into administration and the company was unable to pay more than £10 million worth of debts to its creditors.

Collins was arrested at Heathrow Airport on March 12 2016 and, in his police interview, fully admitted the offence.

He said his motive was “greed” and he used the money on holidays and paying off American Express credit cards.

Analysis of the credit card statements revealed an extravagant lifestyle, including a £23,015 bill at the Four Seasons Hotel in the Maldives and a bill of almost £50,000 at a tailor’s on Saville Row.

Collins said he carried out the fraud by asking a co-signatory to sign a blank cheque. He would then add his own signature and pay the money into his own account. He said he would then add false details, or instruct his clerk to, in the company ledger.

He said the fraud, which he said started in 1999, had led to him stealing in the region of £6 million.

Det Sgt Richard Ward, from the Met’s Fraud Squad, said: “Collins abused his position of trust over a 16-year period to steal £6 million from his employer. The motive for this crime was greed and he used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle involving expensive foreign holidays and designer goods.

“Fraud is not a victimless crime. Collins’ actions have resulted in a considerable financial loss to the company’s 200 creditors who have been left with losses of more than £10 million. The sentence handed out today reflects the scale of his criminal activity.”

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