Fraud funded Whitburn project manager’s lavish lifestyle

Paul Galbraith

A project manager who siphoned off more than £500,000 from his employer to fund a lavish lifestyle has been found guilty of fraud.

Paul Galbraith submitted invoices from a non-existent company for work that had not been done on a business development at Whitburn, West Lothian.

He claimed the money he received was actually an “off the books” bonus for getting the construction completed.

The jury at Paisley Sheriff Court took less than an hour to find him guilty.

The trial heard that the money – totalling £513,200 – was paid into a building society account in the name of Galbraith’s mother.

He used it to buy property, services and designer goods including:

  • a property in Inverkip, Inverclyde, which he bought outright
  • £3,610 on a Luis Vuitton handbag as a gift for his daughter
  • More than £10,000 spent at the Hugo Boss store in Glasgow over eight months
  • £4,695 with Watches of Switzerland
  • More than £4,000 at 29 Private Members Club in Glasgow’s Royal Exchange square
  • £3,073 spent in one day at a five-star hotel in Dubai
  • £15,000 on flights and holidays including a trip to Australia

The court heard that Galbraith also made several cash withdrawals on the account, making 10 £500 withdrawals in one month – and one withdrawal of £2,000.

He spent so much, the account was briefly overdrawn at one stage.

‘The best gear’

His mother told police that her son had always enjoyed the high life.

“It always had to be the best of gear,” she said.

“With my other son, you could go to Primark and buy him a shirt and he’d be over the moon. With Paul, you’d have to go to Topman.”

Galbraith was employed as a project manager with Space Solutions on a business development in Whitburn, on behalf of Oil States Industries UK – the Aberdeen-based arm of a US firm.

He protested his innocence, claiming the money was an “incentivised bonus” which would see him receiving more than £750,000 if he could get the construction phase of the development “up and running” earlier than planned.

‘A gift horse’

He said the money was to be paid to him “off the books” and that the deal was, therefore, “not ethically correct.”

But he insisted he was not wrong to take the money in the way he did, as it had been offered to him by Garry Stephen, the managing director of Oil States Industries UK – a claim Mr Stephen denied.

Giving evidence in his own defence, Galbraith, of Inverkip, said: “He didn’t want any of his senior management team to know I was getting a bonus for this to be pushed through.

“I was to be his man. Sometimes you say you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Sheriff David Pender called for background reports to be prepared ahead of sentencing and remanded Galbraith in custody.

Prosecutors are hopeful that nearly £383,000 can be recovered through proceeds of crime legislation.