White-Collar Crime

Ex-partner of Grant Thornton charged with stealing $4M in client payments


Updated: A former partner of Grant Thornton has been charged with stealing $4 million in client payments to the accounting firm.

Craig Haber, 59, is accused in a criminal complaint filed in federal district court in Manhattan of diverting the money to his personal bank accounts between 2004 and 2012, by having clients mail payments to his home rather than the global accounting firm’s Chicago headquarters, Reuters reports.

Although Grant Thornton is not identified by name in the complaint, the accounting firm’s communications director, Tim Blair, confirmed to the news agency and the ABA Journal that Grant Thornton is the accounting firm at issue in the case.

“Fraud is always serious, but it is especially alarming when, as alleged here, it is committed by professionals who are supposed to be gatekeepers responsible for ensuring financial rectitude,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, in a written statement.

The complaint says Haber’s employment terminated in July and a Grant Thornton spokesman said in an email to Reuters that the firm “disclosed this former partner’s conduct to the authorities promptly after discovering possible financial improprieties, which resulted in his separation from the firm.” Grant Thornton has cooperate with the federal criminal investigation.

Attorney Michael Bachner, who represents Haber, declined to comment.

A partner in the accounting firm’s New York office, Haber had worked for Grant Thornton over 20 years. Arrested on Wednesday he was charged with one mail fraud count and released on $500,000 bond.

Charging documents say he deposited client checks into an account for a business with a name similar to the accounting firm’s, then transferred money from that account to two personal accounts. He allegedly used the money to pay personal expenses including his apartment mortgage and child support and also put funds into a brokerage account.

The Associated Press also has a story.

Updated at 8:44 a.m. to clarify that Grant Thornton was not identified in the complaint and include information from Tim Blair.

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