Business collapses after employee’s theft is uncovered

Blog Liquidation

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A family business was forced into liquidation after a part-time office administrator stole almost £100,000 in a little over a year.

A court has heard how Natalie Akinola, 32, began siphoning money out of the electrical contractors firm within a couple of days of being given authorisation to access their accounts.

Russ Blackburn, who had set up ESS Birmingham Ltd, revealed that Akinola’s actions had left the firm grappling with £70,000 debts and an unpaid tax bill of around £37,000.

The company’s position was such that liquidation proceedings began last month, with six members of staff losing their job.

In total, Akinola admitted stealing £97,198 over a period of 15 months. Subsequent analysis of bank accounts found that she had diverted cash on a total of 93 occasions – even while on holiday in the Mediterranean.

The defendant was exposed last August after bosses received a County Court Judgment for a bill which she should have paid. This triggered an investigation into the finances and finally an admission from the employee about what she had done.

Mr Blackburn said that he had been liable for some of the company’s debts, which had been personally guaranteed.

Last autumn his wife Lynn had quit the firm in an unsuccessful attempt to keep the business trading, but now the doors have closed.

“[Akinola] started in May 2015 and we have since discovered that within two days of receiving authorisation to make payments on behalf of the business she had stolen £500,” said Mrs Blackburn.

“Most of the payments were between £500 and £1,000, but some were as high as £2,000. The biggest payment was £6,500 that she paid to herself when she was off work for two weeks, because her childminder was on holiday.

“She went on holiday to Ibiza and even logged in to steal £1,000 whilst she was away. I just can’t trust anybody now because of what she did. It has been devastating.”

Akinola is due to be sentenced at a later date and is also likely to face action under the Proceeds of Crime Act.