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Universal exec pleads guilty to £650,000 fraud

By | Published on Wednesday 3 September 2014

Universal Music

A former Universal Music exec yesterday admitted in court to stealing almost £650,000 from the major music company, which is a lot of Take That records, even after Gary Barlow’s dodged the tax on his share of the loot.

Duncan Schwier, who worked for the production music division of Universal’s publishing business, admitted to taking almost £650,000 from his employer. The fraud was only uncovered when Schwier was promoted last year and his successor, John Clifford, discovered a number of invoices that had been paid to non-existent companies.

Schwier has enjoyed a long career in the music production business, originally joining Atmosphere Music in 1984. That company was subsequently bought by the original BMG, the publishing side of which was acquired by Universal in 2007. Becoming a General Manager for Universal Publishing Production Music, of late he had been very involved in the firm’s alliance with the BBC.

Pleading guilty to the fraud, Schwier, without legal representation, told Hammersmith Magistrates Court that ill-health had led to him stealing from Universal. According to the Daily Mail, he said: “The background for this is a series of cancers for which I have medical reports”.

Prosecutor Caroline Mungal said: “The Crown invite the court to commit this matter for sentence. You can see the value of the monies involved, in excess of £600,000. The date range is [also] long”.

She went on: “What has happened in this situation is that Mr Schwier was employed by Universal Music as head of production. He was promoted in early 2013. Mr Schwier moved and his replacement was a person by the name of John Clifford. He noticed there was something strange about some of the transactions. It was discovered that in fact there were a large number of fraudulent transactions”.

Referring the case upwards to the crown court, chair of the bench at Hammersmith Magistrates, Paul Brooks, told Schwier: “Although you have pleaded guilty to this offence, the amount of money and the period over which this fraud took place means this is too serious for this court to deal with”.

Sentencing will now be considered at Isleworth Crown Court on 30 Sep.

Universal declined to comment for this report.