Accountant Charged With|Embezzling $4 Million

     HOUSTON (CN) – The former accountant of a Texas shipping logistics firm was charged with embezzling more than $4.1 million from the company, federal prosecutors said.
     Federal agents arrested Kathleen Creel, 41, in New York on Thursday, the day her federal indictment was unsealed. She was arraigned there and is to appear in Houston soon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
     Prosecutors charged Creel with 10 counts of wire fraud.
     According to the indictment, Creel defrauded Wilhelmsen Ship Service while she worked as its tax and customs manager at its Pasadena, Texas headquarters.
     “The indictment specifically alleges that Creel carried out the scheme by creating false invoices from two Wilhelmsen vendors, identified as Vendor A and Vendor B,” prosecutors said in the statement. “Creel allegedly entered the false invoices into Wilhelmsen’s accounting system and either approved or caused them to be approved for payment. These actions then caused interstate wire transfers from Wilhelmsen’s New York based bank account into Creel’s bank account, according to the indictment.
     “Creel allegedly carried out the scheme from 2003 to 2005 by causing the company to issue physical checks to a vendor which she then arranged to be mailed to a Post Office box in La Porte, which she controlled. The indictment alleges Creel collected these checks and deposited them into her bank account.”
     If convicted of all charges, Creel faces an effective life sentence in federal prison, as each of the 10 counts is punishable by up to 20 years.
     Wilhelmsen Ship Service is a subsidiary of the global maritime service provider Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA.

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