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Friday 23 October 2015, 3:52 PM

A Cheltenham accountant has been jailed for 6 years for 26 counts of fraud and 3 counts of perverting the course of justice.

58-year-old Bruce Edward Pritchett of the Reddings Cheltenham admitted to 26 charges of fraud offences including:

  • 20 counts of fraud by misrepresentation
  • Two counts of fraud by abuse of position
  • One count of obtaining a money transfer by deception
  • One count of failing to disclose knowledge of money laundering
  • One count of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain
  • One count of false accounting

In addition to the 6 year custodial sentence, Pritchett has also been disqualified from being a company director for 15 years and will be the subject of a serious crime prevention order for 7 years.

Pritchett's business partner, Lee Martin Holberton, aged 44 and from Grayston Close, Tewkesbury also admitted to the following 9 charges:

  • Six counts of fraud by misrepresentation
  • One count of obtaining money transfer by deception
  • One count of false accounting
  • One count of fraud by abuse of position

Holberton received a 2 year sentence, suspended for 2 years has been disqualified from being a company director for 7 years and has been ordered to carry out 300 hours unpaid work.

The offences took place between 2002 and 2013 and relate to Mr Pritchett's accountancy practice in Shurdington.

Pritchett also admitted to 3 charges of perverting the course of justice after he breached a restraint order, imposed by His Honour Judge Jamie Tabor, which was put in place to freeze his assets and bank accounts while a separate police investigation remained ongoing. One of the breaches happened between August 2012 and July 2014 when Pritchett sold land and failed to declare the £66,000 he made from the sale.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Ian Ginn said "This has been a protracted investigation requiring the skill and tenacity of a joint team of investigators from the Police and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs(HMRC) in order to unravel the complex frauds being practised by Mr Pritchett . That we have done so successfully is testament to the professionalism of the team working together to secure these convictions. Mr Pritchett prided himself on getting to know his clients to be able to help give the best advice he could. What he actually did was to use that information to facilitate his own personal wealth. The next phase of this investigation is the confiscation in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime Act(POCA), which will seek to recover the monies obtained fraudulently by Mr Pritchett."

Gary Forbes, Head of Criminal Taxes Unit for HMRC said : “Pritchett, aided by Holberton, thought he could manipulate the tax system for his own benefit and that of his clients. He thought his theft would go undetected by HMRC, and our partners at Gloucestershire Constabulary, but he was wrong. He abused his position of trust as an accountant and his reputation and career are now in tatters."