Gambler Who Bilked UK Company Out of £6.7M Ordered Repay Just £69K

Posted on: June 13, 2022, 04:09h. 

Last updated on: June 13, 2022, 05:19h.

A gambling-addicted accountant who stole £6.7 million (US$8.1 million) from a family-run store-fitting installation company in Merseyside, England will repay just £69,000 (US$84,000) of the money he embezzled.

James Hall, Vale UK
James Hall, pictured, thought it was “ridiculous” that he was fired from his job for stealing 6.7 million and was “thinking on a different plane,” according to his defense lawyer. (Image: Liverpool World)

James Hall, 49, was sentenced to six years in prison in March for fraud for scamming his employer, Vale UK, out of the seven-figure sum, which he plowed into risky stock market bets.

But a hearing Monday heard that Hall now only has £69,164.50 to his name. Recorder Simon Hilton ordered Hall to repay the sum within three months.

Hall earned a good salary, £81,000 per year, at Vale UK, where he had worked since leaving university. He was on close terms with the company director, Peter Henerty, who saw him as a “brother,” according to prosecutor Fiona McNeil.

‘Different Plane’

In 2012, Hall asked to borrow £250,000 (US$303,000) from the company fund to renovate his own house so he could sell it. Henerty agreed. But from that point onwards, Hall began to take more and more money without permission.

The fraud was uncovered in 2015 when the company identified irregularities in the accounts.

Hall was initially in denial. He told Henerty that he took the money because he “wanted security for his wife and children,” according to court documents. He thought it was “ridiculous” that he was fired because of his actions, according to defense attorney Andrew Nuttall.

He was thinking on a completely different plane than what you’d expect rational people to think. Now, he struggles to explain it himself and how he could have possibly acted in the way he did.

“He seems to have thought himself rather like Professor Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide, everything will turn out for the best,” Nuttall added. “That was his thinking. But it hasn’t, and he must pay the piper.”

McNeill said Henerty “couldn’t believe the defendant acted in the way he did. He was a trusted employee.”

‘Anxious and Sick’

In a victim impact statement, Henerty said he felt “anxious and physically sick” when he thought about the amount of money that was stolen. He added that he finds it difficult to trust people around him.

Judge Tom Gilbert described the sums of money stolen by Hall as “staggering.”

“Before you decided to involve yourself in these matters, you were a man of impeccable character.

“This was extremely serious criminality. You were given a position of trust by this company, and you abused that trust over a long period.”