A bankrupt has been handed a 12-month prison sentence after he was found guilty of removing money from accounts and failing to disclose funds to the Insolvency Service.
Michael Gerald Sheehy of Exeter pleaded guilty to three counts of removing money from his accounts and one count of failing to inform the official receiver of the Insolvency Service that he still had money in a bank account.
He prevented the funds being used either to pay taxes he owed or to repay his benefits debt.
When Sheehy was being pursued by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for unpaid tax and by the Department for Work and Pensions for an overpayment of pension tax credits, he took £25,300 from his estate, without using any of it to pay off his debts.
Sheehy was declared bankrupt on 31 August 2010 with a debt of £58,128.97 but he did not disclose to the official receiver that he still had money in a bank account, despite being told to do so.
He had removed a further £12,300 by the time the official receiver had discovered his “secret” account.
Following an initial investigation by the Insolvency Service and a full criminal investigation and prosecution by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), he was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court to 12 months imprisonment on each count to run concurrently.
Liam Mannall, deputy chief investigation officer from BIS, said: “Mr Sheehy took money which should have remained available to service his debts. He later also failed to inform the official receiver of money held by him which he subsequently removed from his account.
“The sentence should serve as a reminder to those considering such actions that the consequences are severe. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will pursue and prosecute those who flout insolvency law by denying creditors access to payment for debts due.”