Financial investigations into abuse of positions of trust

At Armstrong Watson we have considerable experience in investigations involving the most vulnerable members of society who are unable to manage their own finances.

Our experience includes both civil and criminal investigations relating to:

  • The roles of deputies managing funds held in the Court of Protection
  • The roles of trustees in relation to managing funds held within trusts
  • The abuse of power of attorney
  • Fraud and theft from nursing home residents
  • The misuse of trust monies held in solicitors’ client accounts

The financial abuse in such cases can have a devastating impact on the victims, often resulting in funds no longer being available to pay for the necessary care and necessitating a move to alternative accommodation. It can also have a major effect upon family relations when allegations have been made against parents who have utilised funds intended for the care of children, or where family members have inappropriately been paid significant sums for providing ‘nursing’ or ‘care’ services.

In many of these investigations there may be significant grey areas relating to whether particular items of expenditure were in the best interest of the beneficiary. This is particularly relevant where family members are managing funds on behalf of disabled defendants. We understand these sensitivities and that there is a difference between the deliberate abuse and the unintentional misuse of funds.

Much of the work undertaken in these cases involves bank transactions and we have specialist software that enables us to convert information from bank statements into an electronic format to allows us to analyse the transactions and present this clearly.

We are also able to draw upon the experience of our Armstrong Watson colleagues to deal with any tax issues that arise, and to consider the wider implications of the necessary unravelling of financial investments in order to minimise the losses for the beneficiaries.

A full synopsis of our experience in investigation matters is available on request but we have set out overleaf a number of case studies detailing matters in which we have been involved.

If you would like to find out more about how we are able to assist you, please get in touch.

Contact our Forensic accounting team on 0808 144 5575 to discuss how we can help you.

Case Studies

   Alleged abuse of funds held on behalf of a child with severe birth defects

Liesel Annible assisted in the investigation of the alleged abuse of funds held in the Court of Protection on behalf of a child with severe birth defects whose parents had been acting as deputies.

During this exercise it became apparent that funds had been spent on a motor vehicle which did not appear suitable for the child’s needs, family members had been paid significant sums to act as carers and there were other items of expenditure that were questionable. However, these issues were not considered to be significant enough to merit a criminal investigation or trigger an insurance claim.

It also became apparent that significant sums were due to HMRC for interest on bank accounts covering a 10- year period and that payment of the full amount due would have eliminated the balance of the funds needed to pay for continuing care. Our analysis of the bank accounts enabled a settlement to be reached with HMRC that left the majority of funds in place for the future.

   Theft of funds held under a power of attorney

We were instructed to act in a case where an elderly lady was evicted from her nursing home due to fees not being paid. Our investigation proved that the lady’s entire estate had been stolen by her nephew who held a power of attorney over her financial affairs.

The nephew pleaded guilty to the offences and was sentenced to a period of imprisonment.

   Theft of funds held in solicitors’ client accounts

Liesel Annible acted as expert witness in the prosecution of a solicitor, who utilised £960,000 of client funds for her own purposes. This included funds held in trust for a number of children.

Our evidence of how these funds had been utilised assisted in the solicitor pleading guilty prior to trial and receiving a sentence of three years and six months in prison.

Enquiry form