Former Scottish accountant of year jailed for near £50,000 fraud

Ian Main outside Stark Main and Co's old office in Dunsdale Road, Selkirk.
Ian Main outside Stark Main and Co's old office in Dunsdale Road, Selkirk.

A Selkirk accountant named as the best in Scotland in 2015 has been jailed for 16 months for defrauding the public purse out of almost £50,000.

Ian Main encouraged businesses to apply for grants from the Scottish Government agency Skills Development Scotland, supposedly to pay for staff training, but very little of that money, if any, was put to that use, Selkirk Sheriff Court heard this week.

Instead, those grants ended up in the bank account of the 42-year-old’s former firm, Stark Main and Co in Selkirk.

Defence lawyer David Cairns said: “He was working 100 hours a week at the time.

“He was also suffering from poor mental health at the time, which affected his judgement, but he accepts full responsibility for his actions.”

Mr Cairns urged the sheriff not to send Main to prison, saying his client intended to pay all the money back so there would be no loss to the public purse.

He added that he feared for the future of Main’s firm, Stark Main and Co Dental, based in Selkirk and Edinburgh, and the jobs of its four employees if he were jailed.

However, his client, giving his name in court as William Ian Main, was told by sheriff Derrick McIntyre that he was a professional person expected to show the “utmost integrity” and in his view there was no alternative to a custodial sentence due to the large sum involved.

He cut the two-year prison sentence he would have handed out to 16 months due to Main having pleaded guilty.

Main, of Priory Park, Selkirk, had admitted forming a fraudulent scheme and making claims to Skills Development Scotland.

The total sum he obtained by fraud amounted to £47,215, the court heard.

That offence was committed between March 2013 and April 2015 at his old business premises in Dunsdale Road, Selkirk, since taken over, in September 2016, by fellow Borders accountancy firm Douglas Home and Co after Main left it to focus on his specialised dental business.

A proceeds of crime hearing in relation to the case is scheduled to take place in two months’ time.

His imprisonment marks a rapid fall from grace for Main as he was named as accountant of the year at the annual Scottish Accountancy and Finance Awards just two years ago.

That accolade came a year after Stark Main and Co, co-founded with the late Jim Stark in 2006, won the prize for independent firm of the year at the British Accountancy Awards, with Main also being shortlisted that time round for the title of practitioner of the year.