Times caption: Simon Price and his wife Alayna were convicted of fraud last year
A piece in today’s Times by Andrew Ellson, Consumer Affairs Correspondent:
Paddy Power Betfair has been fined £1.7 million after it allowed the boss of an animal rescue centre to gamble with money he had stolen from the charity.
The bookmaker was also ordered to return £500,000 to Birmingham Dogs Home after an investigation by the Gambling Commission found that it had failed to check the source of the cash and did not intervene when it was clear that the man and his wife were displaying signs of problem gambling. Bookmakers are required to do both under the terms of their licence.
Simon Price and his wife, Alayna, stole almost £900,000 from the dogs home over four years from 2012. Last November, Price, then 53, who was chief executive of the charity, admitted ten fraud charges and was jailed for five years. His wife, then 39, who was a commercial manager at the rescue centre, admitted five fraud charges but was spared jail because she had a young child and was seven months pregnant at the time of the trial.
The couple moved cash from legacies donated to the charity into their private accounts, which Price used to fund his gambling habit and his wife used to pay off debts and finance their wedding. The pair have since separated. [J4MB: What’s the betting she left him, not vice versa?]
Richard Watson, the executive director of the Gambling Commission, said: “As a result of Paddy Power Betfair’s failings significant amounts of stolen money flowed through their exchange and this is simply not acceptable. Operators have a duty to all of their customers to seek to prevent the proceeds of crime from being used in gambling.
“These failings all stem from one simple principle — operators must know their customer. If they know their customer and ask the right questions then they place themselves in a strong position to meet their anti-money-laundering and social responsibility obligations.”
At the time of the trial, the court was told how the couple tried to cover up their crimes, with Price throwing a hard drive into a field and his wife deleting incriminating financial records from a computer.
Price then fled to Spain, leaving his wife a note that said: “Sorry, I need to go away for a while — I need time to think.” He later returned to hand himself in.
Sentencing Price at Birmingham crown court, Judge Patrick Thomas, QC, said his actions “while in the grip of a gambling addiction” had “weakened public confidence” in the work of the dogs home, damaging its ability to raise the £1.85 million needed each year to keep its doors open.
The £1.7 million fine, which Paddy Power Betfair must pay to the commission to help fund research into responsible gambling, also took account of three other cases in which the bookmaker had failed to stop customers gambling with stolen money. The company was also ordered to pay £50,000 in costs.
Paddy Power Betfair admitted that its social responsibility and anti-money-laundering policies at the time were ineffective. It said it had already “evolved those policies” and that this process was “ongoing”.
So 100% of the punishment for the couple was meted out to the husband. Same old, same old. Men are not only responsible for their actions, they’re responsible for women’s actions too.
Women are strong!
Women are amazing!!
Women don’t get punished for their crimes!!!
You can subscribe to The Times here.
If everyone who read this gave us just £1.00 – or even better, £1.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. Click here to make a difference. Thanks.