Accountant steals $5 Million and goes on Gambling Spree

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New Zealand’s Richard Arthur Watson carved out an excellent career for himself as an accountant over 3-plus decades. In fact, Watson eventually rose to the head position of the Ross Group, which gave him a $300,000 annual salary and access to millions of dollars. Unfortunately, the latter part proved too much temptation for Watson after he stole over $5.4 million from customers so he could go on multiple gambling sprees.

The New Zealander stole the the $5.4 million over a period of 10 years, and he took it to the SkyCity Casino. It’s estimated that Watson was able to place over $50 million in bets with the fraudulently acquired money. Fortunately, his criminal actions were finally discovered when the Ross Group did a massive company audit, which included going over Watson’s accounts. When the embezzlement was discovered, Watson was taken to court to stand trial.

The 54-year-old’s defense team gave a solid argument that Watson had a major gambling addiction. However, the arguments were in vain since Judge Charles Blackie gave the defendant a six-year prison sentence.

After handing out the prison term, Blackie told Watson, “You had a compulsion for gambling but it was something you had the ability to control, but you chose not to. In my view the compulsion to gamble was an issue but greed was another.”

He went on to add, “It seems to me you did feel you had some entitlement to steal despite a large salary and additional substantial bonuses. You saw you could get away with it and carried on doing so. In all likelihood you would have continued without the audit being announced. You came clean because it was fairly inevitable you would be otherwise exposed.”

This story may remind some people of a movie called Owning Mahowny, which was based on the real life story of Dan Mahowny, a Toronto bank employee who embezzled over $10 million to gamble in Atlantic City. In the end, Mahowny ended up serving a six-year sentence in prison just like Watson.

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