A managing director embezzled more than £250,000 of his employer's money before he was called out by a whistleblower.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Adrian Platt denied the "brazen fraud" at Liverpool Crown Court, despite carrying out the scam for six years.

Platt siphoned the cash into three business accounts owned by a mate who lived in Liverpool city centre and tried to claim that the massive sums were payment for "stress counselling".

A jury took just 20 minutes to reject his explanation.

Judge David Potter stated that whilst he accepted Platt had been under pressure at work, instead of asking for help from employers he instead turned to criminal actions.

He stated: "You simply decided you should be financially compensated for the way in which you perceived you were treated and took to fraud to accomplish this.

“I am satisfied you, as the creator of the fraud stood to gain most by it.”

Judge Potter said he had abused his position as MD to allow the fraud to be undetected and it would have continued if it wasn't for a whistleblower in the firm.

Platt, 55, had raised false purchase orders for his employers, Befesa Salt Slags Ltd (BSS) and his friend, Bernard Giam in turn produced invoices claiming his companies had supplied environmental consultancy services.

Platt authorised payments which over six years accounted for more than 90% of the total income of Giam’s three firms, most of which Giam withdrew in cash.

Judge Potter said: "“The court is satisfied that a significant proportion of that cash was handed back to you Adrian Platt for deposit into your various personal accounts."

Jailing the two men Judge Potter said, “You, Adrian Platt, supplanted your considerable salary, bonus, car allowance, with cash stolen from your employer. And you, Bernard Giam incorporated two companies for the principal purpose of receiving payments for services which you simply didn’t supply.

“It was a brazen fraud. It was cleverly disguised by the false accounting practises.

"And when challenged you, Adrian Platt came up with an account which was literally incredible and one which the jury had no hesitation in rejecting utterly.

Bernard Giam, 52, of Navigation Wharf, Liverpool, was jailed for 40 months.
Bernard Giam, 52, of Navigation Wharf, Liverpool, was jailed for 40 months.

“You sought to develop an elaborate story of a culture at BSS in which you were under such incredible stress that you needed external help. You claimed that you couldn’t turn to your employers for help out of embarrassment at needing help for stress and fear that a stressed MD would be soon shifted out of the way causing you to be made redundant."

He said the evidence revealed otherwise and the company was supportive of their employees.

He told Giam, who is a martial arts expert, that he had been ready to accept the offer of a hand in the fraud in return his share of the fraud.

He jailed Platt, of Crossthwaite Gardens, Keswick, Cumbria for four years and Giam, of Navigation Wharf, Liverpool city centre, was put behind bars for 40 months.

They had both been convicted of three offences of fraud after a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Arthur Gibson, prosecuting, told the jury that Befesa Salt Slags Ltd, based in Whitchurch, Shropshire, was involved in the processing and recovery of aluminium from a waste product in the aluminium industry. The company was part of the Spanish-based umbrella company Befesa.

Platt was appointed as Managing Director of BSS on annual salary of just over £100,000 year in October 2002. He eventually left the company in May 2017. His successor tasked with a review to reduce costs discovered payments totalling £282,645 to three linked companies “for precisely nothing.”

The police were called in and it was found the one director and shareholder of the three companies was Giam. Mr Gibson said that in reality Giam, 52, had provided no services to Platt or BSS - “the invoices were a complete scam.”

The Whitchurch plant was closed down in 2020 leading to redundancies and Judge Potter said there was no doubt Platt’s fraudulent activities as MD impacted on the profitability of the plant.

Judge Potter said: “But there were many other financial and managerial decisions for which, in hindsight, you have been criticised, decisions which may indeed be highly questionable but for which you have not faced criminal proceedings.”

Judge Potter said that both men were of previous good character and pointed out that Giam was “undoubtedly a person who has helped countless others in Merseyside for many years."

He said: “You set a benchmark for personal growth and spiritual development that is admired by many and acted as an inspiration to many. You have served many communities and done much to help others charitably.”

He added: ”But the jury found what you had disguised from so many for so long - that you fell into the temptation of allowing yourself to be used as a vehicle for a significant fraud for which you, in turn, received substantial financial benefit.”

Paul Williams, defending, said that Platt had previously led a blameless life and had been regarded as “honest and decent” and his current boss would continue to employ him if he was not jailed.

He said: “I suggest the course of conduct was a total aberration in his character and personality. He has a serious medical condition requiring long term treatment.”

He said Platt had been under a lot of stress and after the company’s financial director left he found himself having to make financial decisions when he was essentially an operations man.

Giam’s barrister Eric Lamb said he is a family man with a one-year-old son and he is looking after his elderly father following the death of his mum in March. There had been no lavish lifestyle and the case involved a joint enterprise.

The court heard that Giam had to endure the closure of his martial arts business when the pandemic made face-to-face training impossible.