A Brighton chartered accountant has been expelled from the English ICA for a period of at least ten years after forging a client's signature on cheques worth £32,778. Julia Aston, who formerly practised from an office in Hassocks, West Sussex, forged the signatures on company cheques 15 times over a four-month period in 1997, and kept the proceeds. When challenged in front of a witness she admitted responsibility and promised to repay the missing funds. However, she repaid less than £11,000. Her client, a director of an unnamed company who had hired Aston as company accountant and bookkeeper, then complained to the institute. Finding Aston guilty, a disciplinary tribunal said: 'These acts of dishonesty bring discredit to herself, the institute and the profession of accountancy.' Aston did not attend the hearing or present any mitigating arguments. Apart from the expulsion, the tribunal imposed costs of £1,946. An additional fine of £760, with costs of £740, was imposed for failing to provide information to the institute. Another member, Andrew Michael Stead of Basingstoke, has also been expelled. Stead was found guilty by the Crown Court in 1998 of two counts of VAT evasion and cheating the public revenue. Expelling him for at least five years, a tribunal said that since Stead had been convicted of an 'offence of dishonesty which had attracted a prison sentence' there was no option but to exclude him. David John Segal of London also had his exclusion from the institute confirmed by an appeal committee. After he admitted six complaints, mostly related to insolvency work, the committee affirmed Segal's exclusion for at least five years. JAIL FOR FLOAT FD The finance director of an insolvent company has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by Leeds Crown Court for his part in creating a false and misleading impression of share values. Rashmikant Bhikhubhai Chauhan, 43, was also disqualified as a company director for five years. His company, International Food Machinery, went into receivership less than 18 months ago following its flotation in December 1992. According to the Serious Fraud Office, Chauhan helped created a misleading impression before flotation of the company's health by including false and misleading debts in the accounts and by disguising what was happening.
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