Dismissed employee given jail sentence for contempt of court

The High Court has sentenced an ex-employee of an investment management firm to three months in prison (suspended for 18 months) after he admitted carrying out personal account trading in breach of Financial Services Authority (FSA) rules; forging a letter from his brokers; destroying evidence on his computer; and failing to comply with a search and seizure order.

gavel.jpgMr Christensen was dismissed by Aspect Capital Ltd when it emerged that he had been carrying out personal account trading. In his defence, he relied on a brokers’ letter that he later admitted he had forged. A forensic computer expert engaged by the employer to examine Mr Christensen’s computer concluded that he had uploaded large quantities of confidential information from the company’s computer system to various internet accounts under his control.

In light of this discovery, Aspect Capital Ltd applied to the courts for a search and seizure order. By his own admission, Mr Christensen lied to the search party about whether or not he had confidential information belonging to the employer; lied about the contents of the uploads; failed to reveal at least one computer hard drive containing back-up material; and swore untruthfully on an affidavit in compliance with the search and seizure order.

The High Court, which described Mr Christensen as a “self-confessed liar, forger and perjurer”, decided that the contempt of court was serious enough to justify a prison sentence of three months. However, the High Court suspended the sentence for 18 months because of, among other things, Mr Christensen’s previous good character; the difficulty that would be caused in concluding ongoing litigation; and the impact of the proceedings on his health.

Read the full judgment in Aspect Capital Ltd v Christensen on the BAILII website.

Photo: bloomsberries

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