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In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has confirmed that offenders convicted of CV fraud must pay back at least some of their unlawfully obtained wages.
If you are accused of fraudulent behaviour, be it by your employer or in another context, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. Our criminal defence lawyers can represent you.
The facts of the case
In 2017, Jon Andrewes was convicted of fraud by false representation after he lied about his PhD and previous experience to get a top role as an NHS chief executive. He was jailed for two years.
Since then, a legal battle has been ongoing as to whether or not he should pay back his wages. The sentencing judge originally imposed a confiscation order, demanding that he repay £643,602.91. This was the amount Andrewes earned during his employment.
An appeal was launched. The Court of Appeal ruled that while Andrewes did benefit from his fraud, a confiscation order would be disproportionate and he should not have to repay his earnings. The figure was therefore effectively dropped to £0.
Related: What is a Confiscation Order?
The Supreme Court’s ruling
The case then made its way to the Supreme Court, which recently returned its verdict.
In the judgment, Lord Hodge and Lord Burrows noted that a total confiscation would be disproportionate. This is because despite not being qualified for the job, Andrewes performed the role to a satisfactory standard.
Instead, they ruled it just to confiscate the difference between the higher earnings Andrewes made as a result of the CV fraud, and the lower earnings he would have earned, had it not been for the fraud. He has now been ordered to pay £97,000.
The ruling stated:
“Although we are not attempting to deal with all possible circumstances, the answer to the question…is that in cv fraud cases, where, focusing solely on the performance of services, the fraudster has given full value for the earnings received — and putting to one side where the performance of the services constitutes a criminal offence — it will normally be disproportionate under the proviso in section 6(5) to confiscate all the net earnings made.
“But it will be proportionate to confiscate the difference between the higher earnings made as a result of the cv fraud and the lower earnings that the defendant would have made had he or she not committed the cv fraud. In many situations of cv fraud, it will be appropriate, as a pragmatic approximation of that profit, simply to base it on the percentage difference between the fraudster’s initial salary in the new job obtained by fraud and the fraudster’s salary in his or her prior job.”
Wages may have to be partly repaid
This case offers a stark warning to anyone who lies on their CV to secure employment. While little white lies and exaggerations are unlikely to lead to prosecution, falsifying qualifications and accreditations could lead to charges.
The recent Supreme Court ruling confirms that while a defendant may not have to repay all their earnings, they may be subject to a confiscation order demanding at least a part repayment. This is more likely where the defendant benefitted from their crime, meaning they earned more money that they would have, had they not committed CV fraud.
The Andrewes case is a rarity, but it shows that CV fraud can be successfully prosecuted. Following this recent ruling, it is possible that more and more employers will seek to recover earnings, where an employee has falsified their qualifications.
If you face allegations of fraud, you need to have a specialist criminal defence lawyer on your side. We can defend you throughout proceedings. If you do face a confiscation order, we can challenge the benefit figure, fighting to get it reduced as much as possible.
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