A former Grant Thornton partner has been arrested for stealing nearly $4 million in client payments intended for the firm.
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Craig B. Haber was arrested by postal inspectors Wednesday morning at his residence in New York City and appeared before a judge in Manhattan federal court that afternoon.
The 59-year-old accountant was a partner at Grant Thornton from 1993 until last July, working at the firm’s offices in Manhattan providing tax preparation and advisory services to investment partnerships and other clients. Grant Thornton’s bills ordinarily included payment instructions directing clients to pay the firm by wire transfer or by sending checks to GT’s headquarters in Chicago. However, on multiple occasions from 2004 through July 2012, Haber allegedly sent bills to clients containing payment instructions directing them to send checks to him at the firm’s New York office instead of the Chicago headquarters.
Upon receiving those checks, Haber allegedly deposited a number of them into a bank account that he had opened in the name of a sham business that was very similar to Grant Thornton’s name. He opened the bank account specifically to receive checks from clients that were intended for the firm, according to prosecutors. After depositing the clients’ checks into that account, he then allegedly transferred the money from that account to two personal bank accounts which he used to pay various personal expenses, including mortgage payments for his Manhattan residence. Haber allegedly stole a total of nearly $4 million in client payments.
“From his perch at a prestigious accounting firm, Craig Haber allegedly betrayed his partners, by deceiving the firm’s clients in order to rob the firm blind—diverting millions of dollars of client payments into his own pocket,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “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.”
Haber has been charged with one count of mail fraud, and faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or gross loss from the offense.
Grant Thornton said it copperated with the investigation. "A former partner of Grant Thornton was arrested today by law enforcement authorities in New York for allegedly stealing from Grant Thornton," said spokesman Tim Blair. "Grant Thornton disclosed this former partner’s conduct to the authorities promptly after discovering possible financial improprieties, which resulted in his separation from the firm. The firm fully cooperated with law enforcement authorities in their investigation and will continue to cooperate in their prosecution of this matter."