London, May 13 (PTI) An Indian-origin chartered accountant (CA) has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years of imprisonment by a UK court after being convicted for exploiting a vulnerable victim out of money and assets worth 331,858 pounds.

Sukhvinder Singh, 73, was sentenced on four counts of fraud and one count of money laundering at York Crown Court in north-east England on Thursday. The court heard that the victim, identified only as ‘A', has learning, social, and physical disabilities and was targeted and duped by Singh.

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“Singh put himself forward as a trusted friend and professional financial adviser for an individual with considerable vulnerabilities. His actions, in diverting money and property for his own personal gain, was a huge breach of trust, and failed to support and protect the victim,” said Andrea Thomas, a Senior Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Serious Economic Organised and International Directorate (SEOCID).

“He may have obtained further assets from the victim but for the work of North Yorkshire police who helped to build a strong and compelling case. The conviction and sentence follow close team working between the CPS and police and results in justice for the victim. The CPS will be seeking to start proceedings on getting back Singh's ill-gotten gains,” he said.

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An investigation by the North Yorkshire Police force discovered that when A's parents had died, Singh had offered to sort out the financial affairs. However, the CA instead took 34,000 pounds from the victim's bank account and paid into his own in September 2016. In the same month, Singh transferred the ownership of A's home in the town of Harrogate, valued at around 275,000 pounds to one of his own companies. No money was paid back to A, in return.

Singh created a number of documents on his computer, including agreements and letters, to facilitate the fraud. Some of the documents claimed to be from A and those with responsibility for A's affairs, agreeing to transfer them to Singh, the CPS revealed.

At the time of Singh's arrest, the CPS said that evidence was seized that revealed he was trying to obtain further assets belonging to A, including an apartment in Spain (worth over 62,000 pounds) and around 5,000 pounds held in a bank account in Jersey.

The CPS said it is committed to continuing to work closely with law enforcement and investigatory authorities to bring such individuals engaging in fraudulent practices to justice.

Its SEOCID unit is relatively new, having been launched in April 2022 as a response to the changing nature of crime by bringing together specialists in organised and economic crime.

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