Cooperation cuts jail time in $500k theft case

| 01/08/2016 | 97 Comments
Cayman News Service

Rob Aspinall

(CNS): A British man who stole almost $500,000 from two funds when he was a director with Deloitte has been sentenced to three and a half years in jail. The judge said that although Robert Aspinall (38) was motivated by “sheer avarice”, the hallmark of the case was the high level of cooperation that the defendant had displayed from the moment he was caught to the full restitution with interest on the cash he had stolen. Justice Timothy Owen said he found the mitigating circumstances “exceptional and compelling”, as he handed down the sentence Monday.

The judge said that Aspinall’s cooperation was “exceptional in nature”, as he had agreed to pay over $623,000 to Deloitte to replace the cash he had stolen with interest plus the costs incurred by the company. During the brief time he was on bail after he was charged and before he surrendered to custody, Aspinall, who has lived in Cayman for more than a decade, had liquidated his assets in order to pay back his ill-gotten gains.

The judge said that Aspinall had expressed genuine remorse and before his crime he was a man of good character. In the references given to the court on his behalf the common theme was shock, the judge said, as this conduct was clearly out of character. As the judge noted the difficulties and challenges for his family and two young daughters, who will be separated from him when he is in jail, he told Aspinall, “This is entirely your fault.”

Justice Owen also pointed to the waste of his education, as the one-time director and financial expert will never be able to work in the profession ever again. “Nothing will be greater punishment than the shame you have brought on yourself,” he added as he spoke about Aspinall’s betrayal.

The judge noted the number of aggravating features of the case, which included greed. He said that Aspinall was already receiving legitimate financial reward for his work but he had dishonestly embarked on a sustained course of conduct to increase his wealth in a case where the breach of trust was significant. The judge also noted the sophisticated nature of the crime, which had required advance planning and was not dreamed up on the spot.

But despite the aggravating circumstances, the level of cooperation that Aspinall had displayed was reflected in the sentence the judge arrived at, based on the local as well as UK sentencing guidelines and authorities from Cayman courts in a number of similar cases.

Aspinall, who has been suffering with insomnia, depression and severe anxiety since his arrest, according to a doctor’s evidence, sat quietly listening as the judge delivered his ruling and appeared relieved as the 3½ year sentence was handed down and he was taken into custody.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (97)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    He was a fund director, a liquidator, an accountant and a certified fraud examiner…. hard to think of a person who had touched more parts of Cayman’s finance industry or a person who was more aware of the trust that had been placed in him. He has brought Cayman’s finance industry into disrepute, he has tarnished the reputation of professionals working in Cayman and all expats living in Cayman. There are many, many expats that would like to have seen him given a more appropriate sentence.

    This rubbish about cooperation … he only cooperated because he was caught red handed. He had no conscience until he was caught. His theft was not some impulsive moment of irrational behaviour borne out of desperation to survive. He was arrogant, rational and calculating. Setting up companies, falsifying and forging documents took days / weeks / months. He had plenty of time during this process to reflect on his conduct and not follow through with his actions, but he didn’t. And having committed one act of theft he could have decided never to do it again, but he did not and instead stole again.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Its obvious from reading the comments here as to what segment of the population believes the sentence was sufficient and that he should be allowed to remain in Cayman after serving his sentence, and who believes the sentence was light and that he should be deported after his sentence has been completed. It is clear that Caymanians and Expats are on opposite sides of this line (surprise). Regardless of which side you are on, this much is clear; the judiciary had a duty to set a clear precedent that such a gross breach in a Director’s or Liquidator’s or any professional accountant’s or attorney’s duty of care would receive a maximum sentence. Period. The financial sector carries this country on its back and it has taken a severe reputational blow as a result of this Aspinall’s greed. He should have been given the maximum sentence as not only a deterrent to other professionals in the industry, but to re-establish confidence in the reputation of the Cayman financial industry as a whole. This convicted criminal has smeered this country’s financial industry and he has made it difficult for ALL professionals in the industry to retain client confidence and more importantly, retain business in Cayman.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It seems rather odd that the systems rewards those for cooperating (rather than this being the expectation) and not instead punishes those who are not cooperating. Another example of where society has gotten to. Any little extra effort needs to be rewarded, no matter if it is a genuine effort or at the end just a completely self-serving strategy.

  4. anonymous says:

    “sophisticated nature of the crime, which had required advance planning”
    He is one smart cookie, a Master Mind, and almost got away with it. Time to analyse why fortuna left him.

  5. Knot S Smart says:

    This is a good tactic for Jeff Webb…
    Wait I only had two beers and started thinking nonsense…

  6. Anonymous says:

    These mild sentences for privileged expats serve to set sentencing precedents – for better or worse. Hope the Courts will apply the same leniency across the board.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not too long ago an born/bread Caymanian woman received a similar sentence for almost half a million from her employer and she hasn’t repaid a dime. It’s not only expats getting off with a slap on the wrist. The are both thieves but he at least repaid what he stole.

    • Anonymous says:

      How many Caymanians pay back what they stole?

    • JTB says:

      “Mild sentence”

      Think back to where you were at Christmas 2013. Now think of everything you’ve done since then. Now imagine having all that time taken from you.

      I know there are a lot of punishment freaks on here who think anything less than life is a slap on the wrist, but seriously, stop and THINK about what three and a half years really means.

      • Anonymous says:

        He will be out in 2 1/4, max.

      • Anonymous says:

        Think back 9 months ago (Nov 2nd). Now during this 9 month period you concocted an elaborate and sophisticated scheme and repeatedly stole money from not one, but two, investment fund groups that had as its investors teachers pensions plans, firefighter pension plans and university research endowment funds.

        Once he stole $50K from the first fund you would think he’d stop. No, he then proceeded a few months later to concoct a different scheme to steal half a million more from another fund group. And he could care less.

        (PS, with good behavior under the conditional release program, he will be out in 24 months).

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually Christmas 2012 if he serves the full term!

  7. Bigal says:

    Funny who quickly these type find their humanity when it serves their purpose. Before this he was a real prick in thr community. 3.5 years is not long enough but it should shake his delusional self.

    #Wewantprofessionalsnotcriminals

  8. Harauguer says:

    He paid the money back, with interest! That’s got to be a first.

  9. Jupiter Jack says:

    Caymanians dont pay the money back, we rub the time and come out loaded?

  10. Yup!!! says:

    Pathetic. No deterrence whatsoever. Cayman’s reputation took another hit, while he’ll be out in 2 years for good behaviour. I’m sure he’ll be a model prisoner, teaching inmates how to read (why wasn’t he doing this before he was caught), preaching how he’s found Jesus and that if Jesus was playa, he’d be playing rugby. If rumours are true, that he was indeed partying it up at the Lone Star (as suggested by an earlier commentator), it’s one added insult – nothing wrong with partying it up once in a while, but there’s something certainly wrong with you if you’re facing 14 serious criminal charges and you’re lighting it up (lack of decency perhaps?). He got off way too easy and must be laughing at his latest scam.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with most of your post but vigorously disagree with one part.

      As long as his partying at Lone Star was not triumphalism to the extent of telling everybody what a great job he did in getting a light sentence then he is entitled to take some enjoyment out of his last (for now) days of freedom). The condemned man ate a hearty meal and all that.

      Remember also that he had / has friends who were not party or even knowing of his other side. They need to come to terms with the grief of this. In many ways this is like a wake. I am not sure I would have gone if I knew him and was invited. I am not sure I would have held one if I was he. However I get it and feel that neither he nor those who joined him should be derided for that. There is plenty of real stuff for him to hang his head in shame about.

  11. Justice says:

    Here we go again. Negativity fed individuals. One moment your the crabs. The next the bucket. When will your mentality change. Not only will it change you. but it will change your island too.

    It must be quite boring living life just to tear others down.

    My opinion is. If he did the crime let him do the time.

    But ensure your hands are clean. Residue is very traceable these day.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Whoaa a moment.

    I for one have been saying all along that we need to be careful not to give this guy excessive benefit for the early plea etc… for exactly the reasons repeated in this thread by many others.

    Before jumping up and down and protesting at undue ‘leniency’ however there is one thing I do not know from the story… what benefit was he given? If the ‘start point’ was 7 years and he got 50% off then this is far too much. 4 years and got 6 months taken off and I think that is excellent. Guessing it was 5 years less 30%. If that is what it was (CNS?) then probably about right.

    What the start point should have been is of course an entirely different matter and we can debate that as long as we like. The important thing for me in looking at how he was dealt with is what benefit he was given, nothing else.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Can a local attorney answer this: Can someone get early parole in Cayman for good behavior? How much could his sentence get reduced in this case?

  14. Webb says:

    I am very concern of the speed of this case. I urge every company both local and offshore that this man has been in contact with or touched are audited properly. I don’t think he can be tried twice if evidence show more funds were misappropriated to his uncle Bob’s accounts in Switzerland!!!

    • Marathon says:

      Of course he can! Why do you think people in the dock ask for other crimes to be taken into consideration? – so they get punished all at once. If there’s more and he hasn’t fessed up to it all – boy he in big trouble if they find anything else!

  15. Ms Anonymous says:

    First fraud was for $50k…..elaborate setup to test the waters or was there other fraud which will go undetected ?? Cooperative because after serving time he will enjoy his millions – question is with whom and what will he do ??

  16. Anonymous says:

    (Former) expat privilege.

  17. Anonymous says:

    “Aspinall, who has been suffering with insomnia, depression and severe anxiety since his arrest, according to a doctor’s evidence…” It didn’t seem that way when he was partying at Lone Star some weekends ago with his buddies… Enjoying his last beer before heading in for his light sentence!

  18. Anonymous says:

    This sentence makes no sense. Michael Levitt got twice that time for very slightly more money, in similarly aggravated circumstances, and he also cooperated. I guess playing rugby, having a cute young family, and having the right accent are considered mitigating factors. Was Levitt’s career any less impacted by his crime?

    So what if he showed up early to prison. He was caught red handed and jail was 100% inevitable. This wasn’t admirable, it was just a sensible strategy to get a light sentence and the judge fell for it hook, line and sinker.

    Disgusting.

    • Anonymous says:

      the obvious difference is Aspinall paid the money back and Levitt didn’t (he’s being sued for t now). Surely a defendant has to be credited for that or no-one would ever pay anything back, there would be no point.

      • Anonymous says:

        Surely it’s much worse reputational damage for the jurisdiction to steal money from a client than a firm?

        And he was able to pay the money back because he and his wife are wealthy anyway. They both have/had good jobs.

        So is this another case of “one rule for the rich and another for the poor”?

    • Anonymous says:

      Save for the fact that Levitt kept/spent most of the cash, offered no cooperation and was a serial fraudster who’d served multiple year sentences in South Africa and Canada for fraud.

      Apart from that it’s exactly the same.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Obviously this man was infected with good old Caymankind greed. CIFA anyone? Anyone dare……… CIFA? The Lodge…anyone dare???

  20. Anonymous says:

    Here’s my Caymanian response to you miss/mister 2:39 pm:

    “I am still waiting for a Caymanian to comment on one of their own – a leading businessman caught red handed by the Americans for offering to facilitate large shipments of cocaine”.

    !. As far as I understand it, he is serving a prison sentence in some US jurisdiction.
    2. Like all who commit such acts he has embarrassed all of us be it Caymanian or otherwise who live and work in the CI.
    3. This same business man would acknowledge you quicker, especially knowing the fact that you are not Caymanian, than he would do his own people. (Especially people of a particular social status which I presume you are in or think you in).
    4. So if you think that the majority of Caymanians would march or otherwise to see such person(s) walk away from such wrongdoing, then you are mistaking wrong!

    • Anonymous says:

      Whomever commits a crime must serve the time. You think Aspinall is better than any of us? No, he is just another person who did wrong and was handed down an sentence.

    • Anonymous says:

      If he embarassed you ALL why was it that NOT ONE Caymanian said so!!.Double standards ( if you know what that means).

  21. Anonymous says:

    I am still waiting for a Caymanian to comment on one of their own – a leading businessman caught red handed by the Americans for offering to facilitate large shipments of cocaine.

  22. Anonymous says:

    So RCIPS can investigate fraud. Wonder why they haven’t looked at CIFA?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Where is the deportation order? This man’s PR should be stripped from him. He got off very lightly.

    • Anonymous says:

      Deport yourself. Why is it retards like you always bang on about this? I don’t defend what they guy did, but if he got status, he is Caymanian, end of story. HRC and so on would have a field day (as would the guilty party) if he was stripped effectively of “citizenship”. Its what the Nazi’s and Soviets did, not this so called “civilized” island. He would win a law suit against Cayman. Do you want that? He committed a crime as a Caymanian and is paying the price as a Caymanian.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually, he isn’t. Deport him after sentence served.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why is it hypocrites like you are so quick to look at THIS particular case differently???!!! If this was a born Caymanian, there would be all sort of comments about systemic corruption and how the key should be thrown away after he is locked up. Pure hypocrisy.

      • Rod Bodden says:

        No, he broke the law but he is white ,so different rules apply. This is life deal with it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Having PR does not make you a Caymanian. He does not have Caymanian status, thus he is not Caymanian. I will say it again, he should lose his Permanent Residency as he has committed a crime. Others have lost theirs for much less, why is he being treated any differently. As for your rude name calling, I will not dignify that with a response.

      • Anonymous says:

        Total unmitigated bollocks. Status does not equate to citizenship but even if it did it could and should be stripped where crimes are committed. Even the UK does for dual nationals in appropriate circumstances.

      • Anonymous says:

        Who died and made you the expert on how anyone should to respond, CAL tickets are cheap now, go buy one.

      • CGS says:

        if you read the immigration law carefully, Caymanian status can be taken away under certain circumstances. a person can become an undesirable so HRC can have a field day, week or month, it is in the law.

      • Anonymous says:

        He has only PR so yes he should be deported….. End of story and he can’t blame anyone but himself

      • Anonymous says:

        3:16 pm He is more Caymanian than a forth generation, born and bred Caymanian. He will be the next governor.

      • 7th Generation Caymanian says:

        He got off light. The double standards and excuses by expatriates is disgusting! REVOKE his PR and Status immediately he is not the type of person we need in our country. Deportation orders are common in the UK, USA, Canada and most first world countries.

        Committing any criminal offense and serving time is grounds for revocation and DEPORTATION in the Immigration laws of the Cayman Islands.

  24. Pele says:

    When will someone take a look at the CIFA theft??

  25. Anonymous says:

    I must admit that I am puzzled as to why did the courts not recommend the overturn of his PR/Status, which ever he might possess, and ordered deportation after this thief serves his time?

    • Anonymous says:

      If his wife has status it would be against human rights to deport him as that would be separating him from his family.

      • Anonymous says:

        She doesn’t have to stay…it is her choice if they are separated. There is no way someone who has been given the privilege of PR or staus should retain it when they are undesirable.

      • Anonymous says:

        He is a thieving parasite and should officially be deemed “persona non-grata”

      • No evil says:

        Trump can help with that since expats doing what ever they want we can bring trump to run for the next election too im sure hell get everyone gone ??

  26. Anonymous says:

    “a man of good character” would not have stolen the money in the first place.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Expatkind

  28. Disgusted says:

    This is a travesty and miscarriage of justice and I hope that the Crown intends on appealing this appalling sentence in the public and financial service sector interest. This sentence sets a dangerous precedent and basically sets out that as long as you plead guilty, cooperate with the authorities, pay back the ill gotten gains with interest, have a stellar array of character witnesses and show remorse, you’ll more than likely get off with a slap on the wrist. The fact remains that none of this would have come into play had he not been caught and he would have continued to walk amongst us as an honourable person and no one would have been the wiser.

    • Anonymous says:

      He is so clever that we can’t be sure this was his first crime – this is the first time
      he got caught.

      • Anonymous says:

        And nobody wants to look for more…not him, his employers nor regulators…an isolated occurence is better than a series which may be perceived as control and regulatory system flaw.

    • JTB says:

      Characterising a three and a half year sentence as a slap on the wrist just shows you to be ignorant and foolish, so we can safely ignore your opinions

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree this is a woefully inadequate sentence for the crime he committed! And giving a reduced sentence for his cooperation, repayment of ill-gotten gains, etc., smacks of smugness on his part. The Crown needs to appeal this travesty of justice immediately!

  29. Anonymous says:

    How is it that he was allowed to liquidate his assets after being charged with these crimes? Shouldn’t the court have frozen his assets? Supposed he had got the money and left the jurisdiction like so many others?

    • Anonymous says:

      I was wondering the same. How was he able to expedite liquidation of assets so quickly? This seemingly was a record (asset liquidation) turn-around time. The only other assumption would be that a wealthy friend bailed him out, by buying his assets or placing a lien on them so that he could settle the “cash”.

      If this money was stowed away in a BVI company account, there was no further mention of what has happened to the company or even what Bank was used to execute the transfers or used to hold the embezzled money.

      Not much was revealed in this case, or by the media. The specifics were greatly lacking here.

      This guy didn’t turnaround assets-for-cash that quickly. There was a “little helper” at his mercy, who didn’t want to see him endure a lengthy custodial sentence. Fessing up was only part of the agreement.

    • Anonymous says:

      His assets were frozen two months ago.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, it is a buyers market. His assets must have been greatly undervalued in order for him to dispose assets valued over CI$600K – all completed within 2 short months.

  30. Anonymous says:

    The court is right to reduce sentence given the level of cooperation. I know people will say ‘well the evidence was so strong he would have been convicted anyway’ and that’s true. But when you consider the ludicrous defenses put forward recently by Simon Courtney and Canover Watson and you consider the considerable court time and expense that can be saved, it’s a shame it doesn’t happen more often.

  31. Anonymous says:

    That is a reasonable sentence. Hopefully it lays down a marker? We are handling lots of cash here. We need to be above board.

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