The former facilities manager of a leading US law firm in London has been jailed for six years for committing a £1m fake invoice fraud on the practice.
Paul Fitzsimmons, 49, had been facilities and services manager at US law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton since the late 1990s, and managed relationships with vendors of office and facilities supplies and services.
Over a three-year period, it was estimated that he created fake invoices totalling over £1m which he then sent to fake suppliers from his personal email and phone.
Toby Britton, 53, was a director of one of those companies and was sentenced for four years and six weeks imprisonment for his role in the fraud.
The evidence showed Mr Britton suggested that they set up fake companies with different directors listed to make the trail less obvious and to leave as little digital footprint as possible.
Invoices were then paid for work that had not been carried out, with City of London Police saying that Mr Fitzsimmons used the money to fund “a lavish lifestyle of high-end performance cars, luxury furniture and designer clothes”.
Both men were originally arrested in 2019 after suspicions were raised by Cleary Gottlieb’s finance team. It hired a company to conduct an audit, which uncovered a wealth of transactional information between the pair.
The case was then transferred to the specialist fraud operations team at the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud, for investigation.
Detective Chief Inspector Lee Parish said: “Despite working for nearly 20 years at a prestigious law firm, it would appear that in itself was not enough for Fitzsimmons and that ultimately it was this greed that was his downfall.
“Fitzsimmons abused his trusted position as facilities manager for his own personal gain to fuel an extravagant lavish lifestyle for him and his partner. His relationship with Britton, despite being professional on the surface, was one forged through criminality and the two embarked on a reckless journey which has now resulted in time in prison for the pair of them.”
A Cleary Gottlieb spokesperson said: “The firm uncovered the matter as part of its monitoring and oversight processes in 2018, and immediately reported it to the police and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
“We would like to thank the police for their hard work and professionalism throughout this long-running case.”