False accounting

– section 83 of the Crimes Act 1958

False Accounting is when you destroy, falsify, hide or make up accounts. Resulting in financial gain or loss to another person / entity.

Examples of False Accounting
  • The Director of a company destroys documents about the company’s offshore accounts.
  • An employee at a company hides documents about company assets.
  • An accountant for a firm creates false documents about the firm’s investors.
What are some of the possible defences to a charge of False Accounting?
  • No documents were destroyed, falsified, hidden or created for financial gain.
  • There was no financial gain received from any false accounting.
  • There was no loss incurred to anyone from any false accounting.

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • Was there any false accounting?
  • Was there any financial gain?
  • Was there a loss to someone else or another company?
  • Can they prove there was false accounting?
  • Can they prove there was financial gain or loss?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is level 5 imprisonment (10 years).

This charge may be heard in the Magistrates’ Court or the County Court.

“Were documents falsified?”


What is the legal definition of False Accounting?

False Accounting is when a person dishonestly destroys, falsifies or conceals accounts; resulting in financial gain or loss to another. It is also when a person dishonestly furnishes accounts.


The section that covers this offence is section 83 of the Crimes Act 1958.1

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

In serious cases you may get a prison term. Your sentence will depend on the kind of false accounting and the extent of the false accounting, as well as the financial gain or loss that resulted from the false accounting. In less serious cases you may only incur a fine.

Other Important Resources
Case Studies


[1] Crimes Act 1958 – Section 83

(1) Where a person dishonestly, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another—
(a) destroys, defaces, conceals or falsifies any account or any record or document made or required for any accounting purpose; or
(b) in furnishing information for any purpose produces or makes use of any account, or any such record or document as aforesaid, which to his knowledge is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular—
he is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).
(2) For purposes of this section a person who makes or concurs in making in an account or other document an entry which is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular, or who omits or concurs in omitting a material particular from an account or other document, is to be treated as falsifying the account or document.