The story of an accountant called “a Pole living in the UK” in the British media appears unbelievable, but it’s true. A 41-year-old woman called Diana Vysniauskiene indulged in fabulous weekends in the Middle East, namely in Dubai, where everything is expensive as hell. There’s nothing strange about that, except for the fact that Diana could afford it thanks to her illegal use of her employer’s money. To put it outright: she stole the money, 122,000 pounds sterling!
But it is not all. What is most intriguing about the story, is the fact that the woman has not been put behind bars. Why? A British judge found her arguments sufficient and suspended her sentence. And nobody knows what has been decided about the money the woman stole. We can only infer that there will be some reconciliation agreement and she will have to return at least part, if not all, of the money. However, the judge hearing her case did not mention anything about that. And her employer is not just anybody – it is S-RM Intelligence and Risk Consulting Ltd., which specializes in the protection of businesses against network attacks, among other things.
As the investigation has shown, the 41-year-old Diana Vysniauskiene started to transfer monies from S-RM Intelligence and Risk Consulting Ltd (S-RM) to three private accounts when she was in charge of the firm’s finances in October 2015. The single mum used the stolen funds to finance her indulgences. To be more specific, to pay for her lavish weekends in Middle East. And she continued to do so till this January, when a company audit alerted the managers to the scam, and traced the one who had fleeced them. The evidence held against Diana, a resident of West Byfleet, an atmospheric town in Surrey, Woking, was indisputable. The woman was faced with imprisonment, which would mean leaving her house in the town 33 km from central London. Fortunately for her, it all ended up otherwise. She is not going to go inside.
Why did the judge believe her?
It is hard to tell whether her naive explanations or a sophisticated line of defence convinced the judge. Diana explained her conduct to the investigators by more or less whining that she – as a foreigner in the UK – could not get promotion, and that is why decided to supplement her wages in her own way – and spend her leisure time in a wonderful climate and beautiful hotels. One might say that her social status was elevated, being employed by a renowned company seated in Swan Lane in central London dealing with business risks and cyber protection in business worldwide.
Diana charged a lot for her work. No doubt, she also managed to plead her case by explaining that if she was to be imprisoned for her 14 months of swindles, then her daughter would be at risk of… homelessness, which the jurisdiction of highly-civilised Britain would probably not allow. Hence the decision to suspend the sentence. Rizwan Anwar, defending Diana Vysniauskiene in these unusual proceedings, said she had “explained some dissatisfaction and grievances against her employers”.
I was given no chance
Anwar added that the woman came to the UK well-aware of her capabilities and competences. She had been striving to improve her station, until five years ago when she took up a job with this firm. But, as his client claimed, “there were various barriers to moving up the ladder, up the chain.” And at a point she realised that being a woman and a foreigner, she came across major problems and difficulty in getting what she wanted.
In those circumstances was handed a two-year suspended sentence. In court, Anwar claimed that “when her senior colleague was promotedand moved on she was then tasked with doing two peoples’ jobs". Diana explained that such pressures from her employers to work more and more and still get paid the same made her make that “fatal decision which was to commit this fraud.”
Vysniauskiene says she is “’ashamed and devastated’ about what she did.” She takes it very emotionally. Said Anwar explained that after his client got caught, she did everything she possibly could to protect her daughter’s future, so she took out loans and sold everything she had in order to provide for her child in the face of her going to prison.
“She was genuinely convinced that once the court sends her to prison, her daughter would be rendered homeless,” adds Anwar. He hoped that if the court could “find it in the facts of this particular individual to move this across into any of the other ranges where it can border on a suspended sentence she would be very, very lucky.”
Judge Jeremy Donne, QC, was clear about the woman’s guilt: “It’s a serious fraud, it took place over a 14-month period of time, there was clearly an element of planning because you transferred monies that belonged to your employer into three different bank accounts and you used that money to improve your lifestyle”. He found the fraud she had committed to be “of high culpability” as she had abused her employer’s trust, and shook the faith in the principles and system in place.
She convinced the judge
Judge Donne suspended the defendant’s sentence because she pleaded guilty, and did not misrepresent or mislead during the investigation or the hearing. Additionally, what he found appealing was “her good character, her remorse, her medical condition and the fact that she has caring responsibilities for her mother and daughter.”
The judge admitted openly that initially he had thought of three years imprisonment. But he considered the mitigating factors and her guilty plea to finally arrive at the said conclusion that her punishment could be suspended. “In my judgement, as I say, you have learned your lesson,” added Judge Donne.
Hence the final sentence: two years imprisonment suspended for two years. But that is not all. Additionally, the judge ordered her to carry out 200 hours of unpaid social work, observe a three-month curfew between 8pm-6am and carry out a number of rehabilitation activities to restore her as a good citizen.
Don’t do this again
The judge went on to explain it to her: "You have come very close to going to prison today, you know that, very close indeed. I want you to think very carefully about what it is you have done,” and added: “Don’t do this again, don’t come before the courts again".
From the formal point of view the case seems closed. It is very likely though that Diana’s managers will now strive to recover at least part of the money they lost. It seems that the company’s action is not going to be too “offensive”, as it is not in its interest to wash their dirty linen in public. They are surely not interested in revealing, for instance, further cases of employee discrimination based on sex or country of origin, but that’s another story.
Vysniauskiene’s case should, however, come as a warning for anyone who would think of following in her footsteps. You may not be as lucky as she has been with the gentle judge. To quote a classic: Do not go that way!
* Taking into consideration how many “dirty doings” that have not been committed by Poles are still attributed to us in British tabloids, and not being sure whether Diana Vysniauskiene is Polish at all, I contacted the company that used to employ her (and that was robbed by her) to verify her nationality. And I still have received an answer to this day.