Jim Mann, the ex-financial director of Waltham Abbey-based distributor and dealer CommSense has been jailed for five years following his conviction of a £1 million fraud in which he paid around 200 CommSense cheques to himself and his boat chartering firm SVI Marine.
Mann was sentenced to six years, reduced to five after pleading guilty.
He was suspended from CommSense in September 2015 for irregular spending on corporate hospitality and was fired in 2016.
Before joining CommSense Mann had been financial director of defunct distributor European Telecom. He was brought into CommSense because of his knowledge of the European Telecom accounting systems which CommSense had purchased.
CommSense managing director Barry Moore said the fraud had taken place over five years.
Moore spends much of his time in France and had trusted Mann with pre-signed cheques.
“I find it hard to come to terms with the fact that Mr Mann, who I had known for more than 25 years, took advantage of the tragic death of our financial controller Maria Bocarisa, who died at 42, to carry out his theft,” he said.
“The fraud started almost as soon as he had taken over from Maria and continued for a further five years.
“It was driven by greed and the desire to live beyond his means.
“Thankfully, through sheer hard work we were able to survive and are now in a stronger position as a leading distributor of SIM-cards and recycled phones”.
“Mr Mann callously put his greed before the livelihood of others, many of whom considered him to be a friend.”