A man who has admitted fraudulently taking £69,000 from a company where he was a director has told the Royal Court that along with his co-accused, they worked out how much they could take without anyone noticing immediately, so they could have time to pay the money back.
Richard David Arthur was giving evidence in the trial of Alaric Karl Coombs. Mr Coombs is pleading not guilty to one charge of defrauding Library Place Investments Limited out of £69,000 in July 2009. Mr Arthur admits the same charge.
The money was then paid to a company called Bianco Property Holdings Limited – a personal investment company owned by Mr Arthur, which was later dissolved on 1 October 2010.
Mr Arthur appeared in the Royal Court yesterday as a witness in the prosecution's case. He told the jury that he worked with Mr Coombs for a very long time, and they were close friends.
He explained that Mr Coombs kept the books of Library Place Investments Limited at his house, and the financial records on his computer. Mr Coombs prepared the accounts himself, and received the bank statements at his house, as it was practical.
Pictured: Mr Arthur said that both him and Mr Coombs were having cash issues when they arranged to make the transfer and split the money.
Talking about when the £69,000 transfer was made, Mr Arthur said: "I can recall being with Mr Coombs on the first floor of his house, which is where his office was. I presumed the transfer was done over the internet but it is entirely possible he wrote a letter to the bank… The issue is he made the payment instruction but I don’t know if it was physically logging in or writing a letter to the bank."
Mr Arthur told the jury they identified what they could take without causing distress, and to give themselves time to work out a repayment. He explained they had agreed to split the amount 50/50 as they both needed the money to pay bills.
He described the transfer of money as a short term solution and admitted neither him, nor Mr Coombs, had the authority to take money. "We didn't ask for her (the owner of the company) consent, because of embarrassment. It would have been unprofessional and we thought she would say no." Mr Arthur also admitted there was no lawful reason for Library Place Investments to pay any money to Bianco.
Mr Arthur also explained that the idea to wait until 19 August to pay half of the money to Mr Coombs had been his own idea. He said it was to provide Mr Coombs some protection in case the owner of Library Place Investments found out about the transfer of money.
Pictured: Advocate Olaf Blakeley is defending Mr Coombs.
During the cross examination, Advocate Olaf Blakeley, who is defending Mr Coombs, put to Mr Arthur that he wasn't an honest man, of "having lied to people, deceiving people who trusted you and acting dishonestly to obtain personal gain."
While being pressed on how the transfer had occurred, Mr Arthur said he recalled Mr Coombs making the transaction. He then maintained Mr Coombs had agreed to pay the money, "as of the physical transaction, it was a presumption that he made it over the internet," he added. Advocate Blakeley said it was a complete lie, adding that Mr Arthur had changed his version of events after seeing the transfer document Mr Coombs had signed.
"What happened," continued Advocate Blakeley, "was this: you told Mr Coombs you had been to see (the company's owner) in Dinard and she had instructed you to take the money out of Library Place. And you told Mr Coombs it was because she wanted to route that to her niece who, you told Mr Coombs, lived in Switzerland... The defence case is you did say that and you knew Mr Coombs would believe you. If you told Mr Coombs that something needed to be done he, also like your other colleagues, would take your word. If you said something to Mr Coombs, he would have no reason to believe you are lying."
Pictured: Advocate Blakeley told Mr Arthur he was lying to obtain a lighter sentence.
Mr Arthur denied that and maintained his version of events. Advocate Blakeley added later on: "You come here lying again in the hope the jury will believe your version because you want to obtain something and that is a reduction of your sentence."
Mr Arthur replied: "Unless I take responsibility for what I have done and say what happened I have not completed my journey. I need to move forward somehow. I have a whole heap of trouble ahead of me. I have to make a new start. I can't make a new start by lying here. I can't lie in front of the person who's going to be sentencing me in three weeks."
The trial is expected to last until Friday under the direction of Royal Court Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith.
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