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Monday, 01 September 2014

Carlisle-born millionaire accused of forging signature

A Carlisle-born multi-millionaire is accused of forging a “vital signature” to trick auditors into believing his company had secured a multi-million pound contract.

Related: Court told fortune of Carlisle-born businessman built on a scam

Stephen Graham is one of four directors accused of lying about a lucrative 54.3m Euro (£44.4m) deal to provide the Irish Health Service with a new computer system to give an inaccurate account of how their company was performing for their own personal gain.

Stephen Graham, 48, Timothy Whiston, 44, and John Whelan, 45, forged a vital signature to trick auditors into believing iSoft Group PLC had signed a multi-million pound contract, Southwark Crown Court heard yesterday.

Cryne, who is not before the court for health reasons, and Graham, an ex-trustee of Austin Friars St Monica’s School in Carlisle where he used to be a pupil, are said to have made themselves multi-millionaires on the back of their dishonesty, while all three men in the dock received substantial annual bonuses on top of their salaries.

It is said that the men used the forged contract to claim cash projected revenues from the Irish contract were recognised in iSoft’s accounts from as early as October 2003, despite the contract not being signed until April 2005. It is only when a contract has been signed that a supplier can include projected revenue from it.

Richard Latham QC told jurors that a ‘forgery kit’ was discovered in the offices of ex-chief executive Whiston and former chief operating officer Graham.

He said three documents had been recovered that had been used to fake the signature of an Irish Health Service executive.

The four men had taken the Pat McLoughlin’s signature from a 'heads of term' agreement and, using a photocopier, transferred it onto a draft contract which they then passed to auditors claiming it to be the actual contract, he said.

The four men are said to have conspired together to make statements, promises, or forecasts about iSoft which they knew to be misleading, false, or deceptive.

It is alleged Cryne and the three defendants fiddled iSoft accounts to mislead the market in order to avoid potentially ‘catastrophic’ repercussions.

Graham, of Brackenridge, Mereside Road, Mere, Knutsford, Cheshire; Whiston, of Booths Lane, Lymme, Cheshire; and Whelan, of Lynton Park Road, Cheadle Hume, Stockport, have all now left iSoft.

They each deny conspiracy to make misleading statements promises or forecasts, contrary to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and section 1 of the Criminal Law Act.

Cryne, of The Tannery, Town Lane, Glossop, Derbyshire, is not before the court.

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