Wed | Feb 21, 2018

Massive theft: Welsh accountant admits laundering almost US$2.5m from Bermuda government

Published:Wednesday | January 31, 2018 | 11:37 AM

CARDIFF (CMC):
A 50-year-old Welsh accountant has dramatically changed his plea and admitted laundering almost US$2.5 million stolen from the Bermuda government while he worked on the island.

Jeffrey Bevan, from the town of Cwmbran, admitted transferring the money into his own bank account and using it to buy houses and flats , cars and to fund his gambling habit.

Bevan, who started working in Bermuda in 2011, was caught after he resigned as a payment manager for the Accountant-General’s office in February 2013, a year before the end of his contract, and left the island to return to Wales – hence the prosecutors’ decision to try him in Cardiff, the Welsh capital, rather than in Hamilton, Bermuda.

The court heard he was a “trusted” member of staff but prosecutors said his employers questioned some “odd transactions” before he left the island.

Bevan pleaded guilty to three counts of transferring criminal property and 10 charges of converting criminal property during an appearance at Cardiff Crown Court.

He had pleaded not guilty when the trial opened three weeks ago. The trial had been expected to last eight weeks.

Two men from Leicester, Joel Ishmael, 42, a friend of Bevan, and Paul Charity, 52, his financial adviser,remain on trial, accused of working with Bevan to launder the money.

Charity has also denied a charge of perverting the course of justice.

In a police interview, the court heard that Charity accepted deleting emails he thought sounded “incriminating”, such as one that contained the phrase: “No more money laundering department.”

Prosecutors said he handed a disc of emails to the police but it was “neither complete nor honest”.

The charges came after a four-year police investigation that involved the Bermuda Police Service and the Regional Organised Crime Unit in Wales.

The trial, before a jury of six men and six women, is expected to last another week.

Bevan’s 52-year-old wife Samantha, a former headmistress, was initially charged with converting criminal property, which she denied.

Prosecutors alleged that Bevan made 52 payments totalling nearly US$2.5 million into his own personal bank account. He later transferred about US$1.8 million of that money - which Bevan accepted was criminal property - to his bank account in the UK.

An investigation launched after Bevan left Bermuda revealed the series of bogus payments.

These included a US$71,000 transfer that appeared to have gone to a care home.

But prosecutor Timothy Evans told the court the investigation revealed that the payments had gone into Bevan’s bank account instead.

Bevan at first claimed he had earned the money through overtime and that he had worked up to 50 hours extra a week.

Evans said Bevan “gambled away” some of the cash and used £140,000 (US$198,000) to pay off the mortgage on his family home.

Investigators also found Bevan had investments in horse racing and had bet on races “for a significant period”, Evans said.

An Irish bookmaker revealed Bevan had made 18,853 bets online between November 2008 and May 2014.

The court also heard Bevan spent about £700,000 (US$990,000) on cars, houses and flats, including properties in Newport, Wales, Glasgow and Nottingham.