Pensioner pleads guilty to £600k theft from Scottish Widows

Scottish Widows staff will be affected. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Scottish Widows staff will be affected. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

A pensioner boosted his personal retirement income by stealing more than half a million pounds from pensions giant Scottish Widows.

Robert Crawford pleaded guilty today to embezzling the money on repeated occasions between May 1 2001 and December 30 2014.

Robert Crawford pleaded guilty

Robert Crawford pleaded guilty

The shamed administrator was a trusted employee in the firm’s annuities department when he siphoned off the cash, a court heard.

Crawford, 71, of Queens Road, Broxburn, West Lothian, admitted taking a total of £600,000 over the 13 years he worked for the firm which has its headquarters in Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh.

Fiscal Depute Deborah Demick formally moved for Crawford to be sentenced and for a confiscation order to be served on the accused.

She said a narration “of some length” setting out the facts of the case had been prepared for the court following discussions with Crawford’s defence team.

Following Crawford’s plea of guilty to the indictment charge at Livingston Sheriff Court, a police officer served him with a confiscation order for almost GBP1 million under proceeds of crime laws.

The order states that although he benefitted to the tune of £600,000 from his crime, the Crown estimates that his “recoverable assets” total £972,190.84 and are pursuing him in a bid to recover that amount.

Noting that Crawford had no previous convictions and had never served a prison sentence, Sheriff Jamie Gilmour said: “I think in the circumstances it would be necessary to get reports.

“I don’t see the point in hearing the narrative now. It also means it will not necessarily have to be dealt with by me.”

He adjourned the case until 2 November for the preparation of a criminal justice social work report and a restriction of liberty assessment.

A confiscation hearing at which Crawford will be given a chance to answer the Crown’s near £1m demand will be heard on the same date.

Scottish Widows, which has around 3,000 employees, sells life cover, critical illness, income protection, pensions, annuities and savings and investment products via independent financial advisers, direct sales, and through Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and Halifax branches.