Dale Antonio Allen was sentenced on Tuesday to 20 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to charges of false accounting, money laundering and obtaining property by deception.
Allen, 44, was assistant manager within the credit risk department of Cayman National Bank at the time the offenses occurred – between Jan. 1, 2012 and Oct. 22, 2014.
He obtained $19,871 for his own purposes through a variety of irregular transactions.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats said Allen was a senior officer with a relatively high degree of trust; he had been able to manipulate the bank records with no link to himself.
The magistrate found that Allen’s actions were well planned and sophisticated enough to avoid detection for three years.
Summarizing the case presented by Crown counsel Toyin Salako, he noted that matters began when a vigilant bank official discovered an unusual transaction in October 2014 in relation to a client’s mortgage application file. There was a $2,000 cash withdrawal on funds that should have been “on hold.”
The client was contacted and denied making the withdrawal. He said he had been advised by Allen that a $2,000 payment was required for legal fees. Allen, in turn, told his superiors that he had given the money in cash to the client in the bank parking lot.
A conference call was arranged and the client again denied receiving the cash. Allen then admitted he had been in financial difficulties and had borrowed $2,000 from the client.
Bank officials contacted the client again. He said he did not withdraw the money, he did not lend money to Allen, he did not collude with Allen in any way. Officials began investigating Allen’s work going back three years; they discovered other activities and he was arrested in March 2015.
Allen first appeared in Summary Court in February 2016 and pleaded guilty a month later to a single charge. He eventually pleaded guilty to one charge of false accounting, 12 charges of money laundering and 12 charges of obtaining property by deception.
The magistrate said he was sentencing on the basis of culpability (how much the defendant was to blame) and harm (damage to the victim).
He said it was hoped that Cayman will soon have detailed local sentencing guidelines for offenses of obtaining property by deception. Such guidelines will be up-to-date, expressed in CI currency and take account of local dynamics and economic statistics. Meanwhile, U.K. guidelines are being used, but they have to be adjusted for inflation, currency conversion and the difference in maximum sentences in each jurisdiction.
The sentencing range for the approximate amount of money involved is between 26 weeks and three years, the magistrate noted, with 18 months as the starting point.
He explained the various factors that could raise or lower that starting point.
The harm to the bank could be classified as “serious, considerable or some” and Ms. Salako said it was serious. She said that Cayman is a small jurisdiction and once the case was publicized people would think the bank did not have significant checks and balances in place. The magistrate determined that the level of harm was considerable.
He pointed to indirect loss as well as direct. Numerous hours and weekends were spent analyzing customer accounts and planning how to avoid a reoccurrence of the various deceptions Allen had used. The cost of time of senior management plus counsel was estimated to be at least $40,000.
Allen had been a long time employee, considered by all as part of the bank’s “family.”
His offending was not a one-off “moment of madness,” the magistrate commented; he had made discrete and deliberate decisions on each occasion.
These aggravating features raised the sentence starting point from 18 months to 33 months.
Defense attorney Prathna Bodden raised other points in mitigation. Allen had said he suffered serious financial difficulties as the result of a divorce settlement. Ms. Bodden emphasized that he did not have a lavish lifestyle or spend the money on luxury goods.
She presented character references, described by the magistrate as eloquent, in which Allen was said to be a family man and someone who had worked his way up the ladder.
Financial pressure is an issue that many individuals must deal with, the magistrate pointed out.
Disgrace and difficulty getting a job in the future are simply the natural consequences of the crimes Allen committed, the magistrate continued.
He accepted the defendant’s remorse and said Allen’s cooperation with police was a true indication of his character.
The mitigating factors resulted in a decrease of three months, bringing the sentence to 30 months before the final consideration – full credit for the guilty pleas. With the one-third discount applied, the result was 20 months.
There were no exceptional circumstances and therefore no basis for suspending the sentence. Immediate imprisonment was necessary as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to offend in similar ways, the magistrate continued.
Lastly, he considered the question of compensation. He said Allen had no assets to repay the bank, so no order was made. The bank has the option of proceeding in a civil court, he said.