£200,000 Chantrey Vellacott Thief Should Have Gone to Prison

Garry Hacker, an insolvency practitioner who stole over £200,000 from clients and insolvency estates and put the money into his accounts, has been sacked from veteran accountancy firm Chantrey Vellacott and had his licence removed.

At a disciplinary tribunal hearing led by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Hacker admitted transferring funds into accounts belonging to his former domestic partner; another woman described as ‘Mrs A’; and his own Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and GE Capital accounts.

According to the ICAEW: ‘The admissions made by Mr Hacker in his meeting with the partners… clearly identify that he was aware his conduct was dishonest, and that is why he sought to conceal it over the years.’

The professional governing body described Hacker’s misappropriation of more than £230,000 between 2001 and 2010 as ‘grave’ and ‘most serious’, however, their punishment seems very lenient.

Hacker was declared bankrupt in August 2010 and is therefore ineligible to practise insolvency or accountancy; so the ICAEW’s decision to revoke his licence makes the governing body appear impotent and out of touch.

Moreover, had it not been for the actions of a cashier who spotted a single irregular transaction, the fraud could have continued for another decade and no one at Chantrey Vellacott would have been any wiser.

How could an insolvency practitioner steal for eight-and-a-half years without anyone noticing, and what does it tell you about the accountancy firm’s internal audit procedures which should have picked up any discrepancies within the first 12 months?

Chantrey Vellacott is a reputable firm with a 223 year history. Surely, a partner or senior manager should have been checking Hacker’s work?

No doubt, HM Revenue and Customs would have been a creditor in many of the insolvencies Hacker worked on so he was also stealing taxpayer’s money.

Sadly, this really looks like a case of the industry looking after its own as Hacker was an affiliate of the ICAEW who acted as both judge and jury.

Examples such as these illustrate why the industry needs better regulation polices. Irrespective of the circumstances or his links to the ICAEW, Hacker stole a large amount of money, so why the hell wasn’t he prosecuted and sent to jail?