White-collar thief to pay back $500k+

| 29/07/2016 | 38 Comments
Cayman News Service

Rob Aspinall

(CNS): Robert Aspinall pleaded guilty to charges of theft, forgery and transferring criminal property on Friday when he appeared in court to be sentenced, and formally admitted stealing half a million dollars from two funds he worked on when he was a director with Deloitte. The court also heard that the former financial executive has agreed to pay back all of the money he stole plus interest and his former employer’s legal costs. In what was described as a sophisticated deception, the crown outlined how Aspinall stole the cash without his colleagues at the time being aware.

The prosecution said that the degree of sophistication was such that it was unlikely the crime would have ever come to light if the US courts hadn’t overturned a seizure by the Securities and Exchange Commission in relation to one of the funds Aspinall stole from.

As crown council Toyin Salako outlined the details of the case, she told the judge, Justice Timothy Owen, how Aspinall had created a fictitious company in the British Virgin Islands that had a very similar name to an existing client of Deloitte. She explained how he created a fictitious director, opened a local account for the company, created a website and an email address, drew-up false agreements and forged his boss’s signature.

Through several clever deceptions, Aspinall made it appear as though the company he had created was owed commission from one fund, from which he stole around $50,000, and a creditor of the fund, from which the bulk of the money was taken.

Aspinall successfully deceived his colleagues and stole throughout the period of liquidation of the relevant funds, which was around nine months. He resigned from Deloitte just one month after he stole the last sum and went to work for another local company in the autumn of 2013. However, he proceeded to spend the money on a car and a new house before his crime came to light more than two years later.

Salako told the court that the fund from which Aspinall had been stealing was placed in liquidation after the US Securities and Exchange Commission had won a settlement of over $21 million against the investment manager for insider trading. But in January of this year the US courts reversed the SEC’s settlement deal, and the cash was ordered to be returned to the creditors. As the original liquidators, Deloitte took on the work to receive and distribute the money from the SEC, but as they reviewed the liquidation they began to see irregularities.

Following a full internal investigation, the firm contacted Aspinall in April for a meeting, where they confronted him with their suspicions and he immediately confessed. He said he was embarrassed and ashamed and he would pay back the money. The police began their enquiry around five days later. He was arrested in May and again confessed, explaining what he took and how he did it.

Setting out the aggravating factors, Salako pointed to the serious nature and high culpability of the crime and the amount of money stolen. She also spoke about the significant breach of trust, the high degree of sophistication in the deception and the damage to the reputation of the Cayman Islands by such offending.

Speaking on behalf of Aspinall, James Austin-Smith said his client had instructed him to make no excuses about what had taken place. He said that Aspinall had admitted his crime from the beginning and even revealed the first theft, which Deloitte were unaware of when they called him in.

Austin-Smith said the offending had stopped spontaneously and he had expressed significant remorse and had taken all the steps he could to pay back the money, which Austin- Smith said was available to be given to Deloitte once the court lifted the freeze on Aspinall’s assets.

The defence attorney said that his client had been so cooperative and shown such genuine regret that it was a mitigating factor and went well beyond the usual one-third discount all defendants who plead at an early juncture in criminal proceedings can expect. Austin-Smith described his client’s cooperation and efforts to make up or his wrongdoing as unique in this jurisdiction.

Aspinall had volunteered to surrender his bail last week and had already been remanded in custody. But Austin-Smith pointed out that his client was not going to be serving his sentence in a cushy white-collar prison where he could play golf; he was going to HMP Northward, “where he would do hard time” at a jail that had been condemned as unfit for human habitation in at least two inspection reports.

He spoke of his client’s public ridicule and the impact on his family, and said that telling his young daughter that he would be going to prison because of what he had done was the most “humiliating experience of his life”.

Austin-Smith said there was no doubt that the defendant would never find himself before a court for anything ever again. He said Aspinall could not change the fact that he had committed the crime but he had “done everything possible to try and right the wrongs”.

Following the submissions regarding the case, Justice Owen said that he would deliver his sentencing ruling on Monday.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wait for it later when further digging reveals he has done more fraudulent activities and has more cash somewhere from Intertrust perhaps? Follow the trail to the rabbit hole. I would not let him off the hook because he ‘volunteered’ and is co-operative. I would be too if I thought I got off lightly versus the other crimes still hidden! He will be serving more time when it is revealed, karma it catches up with you sooner or later!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am also of the view that he has other illegally obtained funds that he is trying very hard to protect. Why else does he “volunteer” himself after his crime has been detected? This is too easy of an “ah, ya got me”, the Crown prosecution is lazy and barely invested. When they confess in this manner it usually means that there is more to it than what you know.

    Three and a half years is a joke sentence but hey, the justice system here is a joke too.

    • Anonymous says:

      Another issue for our society to address is the higher value placed on property than persons. GBH carried out on two people secured a sentence of 3 years, whereas theft of $500k cash carried a sentence of 3.5 years. I’m not saying that Aspinall should have received a lesser sentence, but rather that this exemplifies (nb … not homosexuality) a breakdown in the moral direction of our society.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The sophistication was well demonstrated that only experts can do. It was unfortunate that he was consumed by his own evil plans. I wonder what motivated him to do that. This is a good reminder to humanity that living within means will not only bring true happiness but also freedom from scrutiny and public humiliation.

  4. Anonymous says:

    More Caymanian vitriol.Do they ever criticise their own? – what about the very prominent local businessman caught red handed by the Americans (NOT by locals) for offering to facilitate large cocaine shipments. To this day I have not seen a sinle adverse comment form one of his fellow countrymen – this is an all too common theme.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you don’t like how our country handles things, then perhaps you should return to the airport at which you arrived.

  5. KARMA 345 says:

    DEPORT Robert Aspinall AFTER he enjoys the comforts of HMPS Northward for at least seven years!

    “If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime”

  6. Anonymous says:


  7. Anonymous says:

    I think he has cash stashed somewhere else and wants to hide from his other crimes by brushing this one under the carpet as fast as he can. A thief is a thief no matter what nationality. He should serve his sentence and he and his family should be shipped off island and deported whether he has status or not. He is not welcome anymore. We do not need imported criminals, only real professionals. What a twit to sacrifice his family and their welfare for a few dollars, when he earns well enough. Greed is one of the worst sins. I hope he thinks long and hard on his stupidity in prison.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s amazing how the tone towards this criminal is so mellow and watered down. Hmmmm wonder why. Bias.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds to me he faced up to his crime. That is not an easy thing to do and most career criminals never take ownership of their actions and blame the community. It is brave to tell his daughter the hard truth so I hope he studies law and IT while in prison and his next career is catching other while collar criminals. If only a flew others who fled had the courage to face their crimes?!?

    • Anonymous says:

      …and, all of a sudden HMP Northward (Prison) conditions is a Human Rights issue. For the expat who doesn’t won’t to serve their time there, same as the locals or expat minorities, now seeking for facility improvements and a cushy living. No lawyer, prosecuting the poor and unfortunate, has ever deeply cared about the Northwards Prison’s living conditions, until it is/was one of its own white collar elite that has to “rub time in the joint”.

      The only Human Rights these white-collar criminals have is re-paying their debt(s) to society. Otherwise, I opine that they should be thrown in a dark/poor lit dungeon to co-inhabit with some hungry wild beasts–lions, wolves and gators come to mind.

  9. Anonymous says:

    They should have leave out the “collar” part…

  10. Anonymous says:

    I occasionally watch CNBC American Greed….and sad to say….his profile meets exactly what is depicted in those shows.

    Forgery, creating fake websites…..almost psychopathic behavior? Gawd, if the funds he stole from had been billions instead of millions, we would have a Cayman Madoff here.

    So people shouldnt be sympathetic that he stole from “billionaires”. Truth is, the funds he stole from were invested by fireman and police unions, teachers pension plans, and university foundations that research cancer and diabetes cures.

    “The most humiliating he told his daughter…….”. Really, you got away with a $50k fraud, and then a few months later you stole $500K over 9 months. And just by chance you got caught 3 years later.

    You had plenty of time to stand down from your fraudSSS. And you want sympathy? You were making 6 figures, and your (innocent) wife was doing excellent in her business, yet you did this. You have done enough harm to Deloitte, to Intertrust, to CAIA, to Harmonic, to your wife and kids…….

    God bless, and hope you make a positive contribution during your imprisonment. You are a smart guy that did a lot of good since you arrived in 2003. (You did some brave things during Ivan that I witnessed…..you were a stand up, selfless guy which is why I am so disappointed in you now) Hope your family supports you.

    “A man falls on his sword.”

  11. Anonymous says:

    Probably another outsider hired with little to no background check,bracka

  12. SuCka Free Cayman says:

    You know things real bad anon 3:03pm when expats have to resort to common thievery to get rich quick or die trying. They must realize they have to get theirs now before the Cayman Financial dream goes bottoms up??

  13. Man Apart says:

    Oh spare us S 2:34pm He was caught red handed and with a international firm like Deliotte where exactly could he run to. What happen to him was he look around here saw the rest of the gang of nou veau rich pirates, heard the stories saw the excessive lifestyles became intoxicated by the expat impunity in Cayman and thought. That could be me! i am only following in the footsteps of some of the so called financial pioneers and established pariahs in these little islands. We have seen local folks jailed for far less even paid the monies back too. What happen??? he did get the EXpat get out of jail free option?? leave Cayman on Bail?? WARNING Mind who ya steal from round here next time ya hear!

  14. Yes Suh! says:

    I knew Mr. Aspinall, not well, but well enough… He was polite but not overly friendly. I was always of the impression that he thought that his caca didn’t stink. To a large degree I feel for his family, for the way that this whole story has impacted their lives. They are truly innocent in this matter. On the other hand, Mr. Aspinall is the lowest of lowest criminals. He stole, not to survive, but to enrich himself, in order to live a life of luxury; a life which he most likely could have led had he been a bit more patient… He deserves a little recognition for owning up to the things that he has done (he could have tried to play stupid like most others – wouldn’t have worked, but he could have tried nonetheless), but it doesn’t excuse him from his actions, and shouldn’t lead to a great reduction in his sentence. Though he may think that he is smarter than most (my impression was that this was the case) he is actually not all that bright – had he been smarter he would have realized that there is no such thing as a perfect crime. Should he have millions in other accounts waiting for him upon release, Mr. Aspinall may have the last laugh…

  15. anonymous says:

    I have major concerns because another person has been caught stealing… There are too many people stealing from their employers and clients. If you look at the population as a whole and the percentage of these type of crimes it must be abnormally high. So I want to know why he stole. Did he have a need to “keep up with the Jones'” so great that he would risk anything and everything. This epidemic is out of control.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      White collar fraud has been here for years. Remember Jean Doucet who was extradited from Monaco or Gordon Aiton, ironically the ex Inspector of Banks. There have been others but these guys stand out. Both stole from their clients and both sent to jail in the Cayman Islands. I should add that in both cases, along with that of First Cayman Bank their audit reports were heavily qualified. The audit firm, the same one for all three, was fired and all three banks went up into liquidation. How do I know? My firm was the one that was fired!.
      The lesson to be learnt here is that all companies and businesses must have proper controls including insolvency practitioners. Auditors should be much more skeptical and regulators need be vigilant and much more pro active than they have been in the past.

  16. S says:

    No need for Caymanians to vilify him, he did that to himself already. You are obviously an expat so I am asking you if he was Caymanian wouldn’t you viilify him? When this story broke there were hardly any negative comment on it. Most of us praised him for being upfront and saving courts time and money by confessing. But apparently that is not good enough for you. No matter what some of you will never refrain from bad mouthing Caymanians. It’s people like you who make the world such a hateful place. I do not know Mr. Aspinall but I am sure he is grateful for the kindness shown to him on this story. I trust that he will have the fortitude to get through the possible incarceration and that he would have learn from this episode of his life. May it also be a lesson to anyone who would even think about doing what he did. I believe in second chances, and I will remember you and your family in my prayers. may the God of PEACE be with you always.

  17. Anonymous says:

    With such a level of “honesty” being shown once he was found out I’d be asking the very obvious question of what else has he been up to?

  18. Anonymous says:

    [Maybe} he has millions stashed elsewhere and this small amount of pay back with the prison term will have no effect upon his life comforts

  19. Sharkey says:

    To all of the world who think of getting rich fast this way , you are wrong . Look at what this greedy corrupt man has to do , the hardest part telling your kid/ kids why you’re in prison and not with them teaching them how to work hard and making a honest living.

    To all that think and want to get rich fast like this man , think again because you’re not the smartest man in this world .

  20. Hotstepper says:

    They are here for us remember??? Yes prison is good enough for locals but unfit for the likes of Aspinall Met this “forensic accountant” guy he is an arrogant and pompous @$$ and believed he could do as his fellow expats who have come here and did and live out rest of their lives in opulence and luxury. After all its the colonies is it not??? We are seeing lately is some are some are so blatant that they are getting caught yet these employers are still importing this so called expertise onto this island and are clearly not vetting them properly. Erryting criss so long as it aint the Lazy Caymanian?

  21. Anonymous says:

    I am of two minds on this. He will get multiple years of prison, but I dont think 5 or more years is necessary (will find out Monday). But he went through great lengths over a period of time to commit his fraud.

    Baffling that he would commit his initial offense for the sake of $50K, given that he was likely making a comfortable six figure salary.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Never mind fixing an amount he has to repay. That should be a minimum. How much has the value of the house gone up since he bought it? Probably more than bank interest…The house was purchased from the proceeds of crime. It (and everything else) should be sold and put into the pool to be distributed to the victims. If the net proceeds are more than the amount stolen plus interest .. so what. Aspinall cannot be allowed to retain one cent from anything bought with the money he stole

    • Anonymous says:

      That would be a civil matter for the liquidators.

      • Anonymous says:

        .. if appointed. Alternatively a (naive) judge could accept Aspinall’s offer of ‘full restitution’ and, in order to save ‘unnecessary expense’ not invoke any proceeds of crime action / investigation. It is precisely that option that I fear and would vote against.

  23. Anonymous says:

    His eagerness has me suspicious. I think he has more that he has hidden successfully and do not want any prying eyes finding anything more. He just wants to pay for what has been discovered and hope everyone closes the book on this investigation.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Deportation order? PR/Cayman status revoked?

  25. Anonymous says:

    May he rot in jail. If he has status be stripped of the privilege to call the Cayman Islands home and then be deported to his country of origin like all the other expatriates convicted of crimes committed in Cayman

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly 8:41. All too often people like this thief gives the rest of us expats a bad name. The only reason he “confessed” was because he got caught. He simply did not want the embarrassment of being dragged through the trial.

      If he didn’t get caught, would he have “confessed”????? I think not.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the THREE PASTORS should sit in the court on Monday to see if this man will be given the maximum he has coming to him and if not they should protest the court’s decision. It is acts like these that are committed here in the CI that give us such a bad name around the world NOT two consenting adults who happen to love and care about each other and wanting the same human rights that are afforded by others.

  27. Anonymous says:

    And Caymanians will still vilify him.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t care what nationality he is. He’s a thief and the punishment should fit the crime which appears to be quite big.

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