A lawyer who defrauded two companies he worked for out of over £600,000 has been convicted of fraud offences following a trial at Southwark Crown Court.
Joshua Brien – 48 (14.02.73) formerly of Darnley Terrace, W11 was found guilty of three counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of fraud by false representation on 26 August.
He was sentenced at the same court on Friday, 10 September to a total of seven-and-a-half years in prison.
The jury heard how Brien used his intrinsic knowledge of an internal system used to make payments to contractors to defraud the Commonwealth Secretariat out of around £150,000.
Brien was employed by the company between 2004 and 2016, when he was dismissed for an unrelated offence.
During his time, he was the sole liaison for a contractor who had been employed on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat to carry out work on their behalf.
Brien fabricated correspondence using a fake email address he had set up that was very similar to the genuine one used by the contractor. In this ‘correspondence’ he channelled the funds intended to be paid to the contractor into a rogue bank account in Australia that Brien had set up specifically to carry out the fraud.
It was only after Brien had left the company that the fraud was discovered.
By that time, Brien had moved to another company called Cooley UK LLP, obtaining the job in 2017 having lied on his application form that he hadn’t been dismissed at any previous employer.
While employed there, he acted as a lawyer for an ongoing arbitration case involving a marine salvage company. Brien used his personal bank – similar to the method he had used in his previous fraud – and told the client to forward payments to this account. It was only after police arrested Brien for the offence committed at his previous employer that Cooley UK LLP discovered that over £400,000 had been paid from this client to his personal bank account. Brien’s manager had also been alerted after he met with the client’s representative and raised the issue of apparent unpaid fees – money which had been paid in good faith by the client but unknowingly stolen by Brien.
Brien also defrauded a second client while employed at Cooley; this time to the figure of around £90,000. Again, Brien alluded to be acting on behalf of the firm but instead channelled the money into his own accounts.
Police were called in and Brien was arrested on 29 October 2019 before being charged with multiple fraud offences.
Detective Constable Mark Bunning of the Met’s Economic and Specialist Crime Team said:
“Joshua Brien used his knowledge of the internal reporting systems of the companies who employed him to carry out significant fraud.
“He used the employ of his companies to operate in plain sight; carrying out protracted fraudulent activities for his own personal gain.
“However, due the diligent and dedicated work of the police, Brien has been convicted and will now face to consequences of his actions.”