Forbes IFA jailed in £500k heist

Forbes IFA jailed in £500k heist


A financial adviser who stole more than £500,000 from his clients has been jailed for five years, reported This is Lancashire.

Stephen Smalley, 49, who worked in the financial advice division at solicitors Forbes, stole £524,440 from client accounts and skimmed cash from five customers’ investments, including his confused dementia-suffering father-in-law.


Smalley, of Rowe Lee Park, Blackburn, had worked for the firm for 19 years when he committed a ‘treble breach of trust’, Preston Crown Court heard.


Prosecutors said that Smalley had admitted helping himself to cash for nine years from clients he decided were ‘wealthy enough

not to notice’.


The court also heard how Smalley had a sophisticated technique of hiding his thefts, which included deleting paperwork, so as not to tip off colleagues or the firm’s compliance officer. 


While offering advice on savings and investments, mortgages, personal pensions and retirement plans and income protection, S

malley creamed off the £524,440, including £28,857 from his father-in-law.


Smalley’s crimes only came to light earlier this year after he tried to leave the company to live on his ill-gotten gains.


When he was asked to brief staff about his personal work with a number of clients as part of a routine handover procedure, he failed to do so, which aroused the suspicion of his bosses, prosecutors added. 


Forbes then informed the police after the checks they made revealed that he had been moving funds into his own account, generating interest for himself. It is understood that Smalley had not spent any of the money. 


The title also reported that Smalley pleaded guilty to two charges of theft between April 10, 2003 and March 30, 2012 and one count of transferring criminal property. 


The court heard that the joint Managing Partner of Forbes’ Preston branch, Winston Hood, had made sure none of its clients had lost out as a result of Smalley’s actions.


All the money had now been accounted for, with Forbes being the only people to lose £6,000 and damage to its reputation. 


Tom Lord, defending, said: “My client has offered no reason as to why he committed this crime. He had everything a middle class man with a family and home could want. He was not in debt or gambling and he was not having an affair. 


“He has shown complete remorse. His actions have caused him huge embarrassment and he has lost his job, his marriage and his children.” 


Judge Graham Knowles QC told Smalley the nature of his crimes meant a prison sentence was inevitable. He said: “This was a

treble breach of trust, defrauding your colleagues, your clients and your family. 


“Your colleagues were a model of restraint in their witness statements. But that weekend it all came out will live in their memory as the worst in their lives. 


“You received a good salary, but I think you wanted to live a life with less effort. 


“You collected money over a nine year period until you decided you had enough to retire and live on. You did your best not to get caught but it was the exit strategy that let you down.” 


John Barker, Joint Managing Partner at Forbes Preston office, said: “I can confirm Smalley is a former employee. He was dismissed after an internal investigation. 


“No client has ultimately suffered any formal loss.” 


Smalley was sentenced to four years in prison for theft from an employer, plus one year to run consecutively for the theft from his father-in-law. He was also sentenced to a year behind bars for transferring criminal property to run concurrently. 

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