Accountant enters jail ‘early’

Rob Aspinall to plead guilty Thursday

Accountant Rob Aspinall, left, and his attorney James Austin-Smith report to the Cayman Islands Grand Court on Friday. – Photo: Matt Lamers

Although he has not formally pleaded guilty, Cayman Islands accountant Rob Aspinall agreed to be remanded to Northward Prison on Friday to begin serving time on theft and fraud-related charges.

The somewhat unusual concession was made, according to Aspinall’s attorney James Austin-Smith, because his client intended to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity and the crimes Aspinall is accused of committing “only really attract one type of sentence [referring to imprisonment].”

“That’s an unusual, but I have to say, very sensible suggestion,” Grand Court Judge Charles Quin said Friday.

Aspinall, who stood in the Grand Court dock for the first time Friday, did not speak on his own behalf. The court set Thursday, July 28, as the date for his plea and sentencing. Mr. Austin-Smith said Aspinall had already agreed to plead guilty in the case and face a sentencing hearing on the same day.

It was uncertain whether Aspinall would learn his sentence on Thursday. Justice Quin said it was possible the sentencing judge might wish to withdraw to consider the matter.

“Mr. Aspinall is keen to know his fate as soon as possible,” Mr. Austin-Smith said.

Charges filed in June against Aspinall, an investment funds liquidator, included: two counts of theft, two counts of forgery, one count of false accounting, five counts of transferring criminal property, one count of transferred criminal property, two counts of converting criminal property and one count of using criminal property.

According to court records, the theft charges relate to US$445,000 allegedly stolen in 2013, and US$50,414.20 allegedly stolen in 2012.

Records allege that Aspinall stole US$445,000 from Level Global Overseas Master Fund Ltd. between May 1 and Aug. 21, 2013. The other theft charge alleges he stole US$50,414.20 from Aslan Capital Master Fund LP and Aslan Capital Offshore Fund Ltd. on Nov. 6, 2012.

Other criminal charges allege Aspinall spent ill-gotten funds on a US$200,000 down payment for a property purchase in July 2013 and more than US$50,000 for the purchase of a BMW in October 2013.

Following Aspinall’s arrest in early May, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service alleged that the criminal conduct occurred after he had been appointed as a voluntary liquidator for two funds while employed with the local office of an international investment firm. During this appointment, a quantity of money was misappropriated from these funds and transferred to another account, police said.

Publicly available documents also state that Aspinall has been found to have contravened the Directors Registration and Licensing Law and is not considered eligible by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority to hold a position as a professional director. Aspinall’s director registration was suspended on June 3.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.