A former accountant for Deep Purple has been sentenced to six years and four months in prison for stealing £2.2million from the band, it has been reported.
Dipak Rao was sentenced on Tuesday (April 30) after it was revealed that he transferred large sums of money from the accounts of Deep Purple Overseas Ltd and HEC Enterprises Ltd – both of which he was a director of – into his own, SurreyLive reports. He then invested the cash into a number of money-making schemes that all turned out to be scams, resulting in Rao losing the money.
Discovering Rao’s wrongdoings in 2014, he was sued by the surviving founding members of Deep Purple (Ian Gillan, Roger Glover and Ian Paice) and the estates of the late Jon Lord and their former manager Tony Edwards in early 2017. Edwards’ children were said to have become suspicious when they inherited some of the band’s business following their father’s death in 2010.
“The stress that we have been under during this time is immeasurable,” said a statement from Edwards’ daughter, read out in court. “He has devastated the legacy that my father spent his life building. This devastation was brought about by a man that we had known for years and trusted.”
Coming two years after an investigation by the Insolvency Service was undertaken, it was found that, from 2008 to 2014, Rao had been transferring money from Deep Purple Overseas Ltd and HEC Enterprises Ltd into his own bank accounts. He reportedly covered his tracks by hiding the transactions from financial reports and restricting access to the band’s bank accounts. He resigned from the aforementioned companies in November 2014 after a board meeting uncovered the stolen funds.
Lawyers for Rao claimed that he took the money in a “moment of madness” and that he continued to take money in order to recoup his losses. “His conduct is most accurately and fairly seen as the conduct of a foolish man who got out of his depth,” his defence stated.
Pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position and transferring criminal property, Rao is due to serve at least half of his prison sentence and has been disqualified from being the director of any business until 2028.