A “HIGH-FLYING” finance boss has been jailed for three years after being caught embezzling nearly £600,000 from her firm.
Sharon Porter siphoned off the cash from Escape Recruitment Ltd into a joint bank account she held with her husband.
The 41-year-old, who lives in a £250,000 house in a plush development bordering Deer Park golf course in Livingston, stole the money over a near six- year period.
A court heard that Porter’s husband of five years had now left her, ending their 17-year relationship, while he had suffered a heart attack brought on by stress following her arrest.
Sentencing her at Livingston Sheriff Court yesterday, sheriff Donald Ferguson said that Porter had paid herself an extra £100,000 a year in a “brazen, persistent crime” carried out for “selfish reasons”.
Porter has repaid just £4500 of the missing money after promising to repay more, and is being pursued under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Defence solicitor Andy Aitken said: “When she took this job she had some financial difficulties. The initial money she took was to pay off the credit card debt, then she set up a standing order and did nothing further about it.”
Fiscal depute Lyndsey Armstrong said the embezzlement began six months after Porter joined the firm, based in Alderstone Business Park, Macmillan Road, Livingston, as finance manager. She said: “The accused admitted that she’d used the embezzled funds to pay off her credit cards and she’d been transferring funds to a joint bank account she held with her husband.
“She also admitted that she’d increased her own salary.”
When the accused was interviewed about the money by directors, the court heard that she told them: “I can’t say anything – I’ll go to prison”.
Porter had embezzled nearly £600,000 before sparking an internal investigation by bailing out a disgruntled colleague who had been refused a pay rise.
Porter funded the salary increase personally by paying her out of funds she was stealing. But the workmate went to bosses to find out why she was being paid the same salary from the company, but getting the increase in cash from Porter.
Porter, of Gallacher Green, Livingston, pleaded guilty to embezzling £597,944.06 between February 2006 and October 2011.
Sheriff Ferguson told her: “It seems to have been for selfish reasons, so I’ve no alternative but to send you to prison.”
Escape Recruitment was founded in 2000, and provides recruitment services for sectors including energy, engineering, manafacturing and finance.
No-one at the company could be reached for comment.