Facilities manager who faked invoices amounting to over £1 million sentenced to six years in prison
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A facilities manager who submitted fake invoices to suppliers has been jailed for six years along with a company director of a vendor he conspired with.
Paul Fitzsimmons, 49, of Royal Drive, Leicester, held the role of facilities and services manager at US law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP since the late 1990s, and as part of his duties, managed relationships with vendors of office and facilities supplies and services.
Over a three year period, it was estimated that Fitzsimmons duped fake invoices totalling over £1 million which were then sent to suppliers from his personal email and phone. He was jailed for six years at Southwark Crown Court on 10 October 2023.
Toby Britton, 53, of Manchester Drive, Essex, a director of one of the companies Fitzsimmons liaised with as part of his role, was also sentenced for four years and six weeks imprisonment at the same court.
Detective Chief Inspector Lee Parish, from the fraud operations team at the City of London Police, said:
“Despite working for nearly twenty years at a prestigious law firm, it would appear that in itself was not enough for Fitzsimmons and that ultimately it was this greed that was his downfall.
“Fitzsimmons abused his trusted position as facilities manager for his own personal gain to fuel an extravagant lavish lifestyle for him and his partner. His relationship with Britton, despite being professional on the surface, was one forged through criminality and the two embarked on a reckless journey which has now resulted in time in prison for the pair of them.”
Evidence showed Britton suggested that he and Fitzsimmons set up fake companies with different directors listed to make the trail less obvious and to leave as little digital footprint as possible.
Invoices were then paid for work that had not been carried out with Fitzsimmons and Britton working together to dupe the law firm to over £1 million, with Fitzsimmons using the money to fund a lavish lifestyle of high-end performance cars, luxury furniture and designer clothes.
Both Fitzsimmons and Britton were originally arrested in 2019 after suspicions were raised by the finance team at Cleary Gottlieb Stein and Hamilton LLP. A company were then hired to conduct an audit and investigate the losses which uncovered a wealth of transactional information between Fitzsimmons and Britton.
The case was then transferred to the specialist fraud operations team at the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud, for investigation.
A Cleary Gottlieb Stein and Hamilton LLP spokesperson said:
“The firm uncovered the matter as part of its monitoring and oversight processes in 2018, and immediately reported it to the police and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We would like to thank the police for their hard work and professionalism throughout this long running case.”