A director who was found guilty of stealing money from two of Deep Purple’s royalty companies has been jailed for six years and four months.
Dipak Rao was handed the prison sentence at Guildford Crown Court after being found to have taken £2.4 million from Deep Purple Overseas Ltd and HEC Enterprises Ltd and transferring the cash into his own account.
Rao had been a director of both companies, which were run by the band.
Surrey Live report that the 71-year-old used the cash to invest in money-making schemes, only to lose the finances when they turned out to be scams.
The two royalty companies Rao stole from were originally set up by Deep Purple’s longtime manager Tony Edwards and his business partner John Coletta.
The court was told that Rao began taking money from the accounts in 2008, and continued to do so until 2014, until two of Edwards’ children – who had inherited parts of the businesses following their father’s death in 2010 – became suspicious of wrongdoing.
In November 2014, Rao resigned from Deep Purple Overseas Ltd and HEC Enterprises Ltd after the boards uncovered the theft. Both companies were liquidated earlier this year.
Edwards’ daughter Abigail Flanagan told Surrey Live: "The stress that we have been under during this time is immeasurable. 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."
Rao’s lawyer Rhys Meggy said that he had initially taken the money “in a moment of madness that kickstarted this entire awful affair,” but hadn’t enjoyed a lavish lifestyle as a result.
Meggy added: "His conduct is most accurately and fairly seen as the conduct of a foolish man who got out of his depth."
Investigating officer Detective Constable Rebecca Mason, from Surrey Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: "This is a case of out-and-out dishonesty and someone blatantly abusing the trust placed in them.
"Just because someone wears a suit and hides their crimes behind the facade of an official sounding job, it doesn’t make them any less of a criminal.
“Dipak Rao, who was perceived as a friend to the late directors, worked for these companies for 20 years. He abused his position and hid his crime for over seven years. Through careful financial analysis it was uncovered that Rao had been gradually removing funds from the companies’ accounts for his own personal use for the duration of this time, only ceasing his activity when questions were raised by the relatives of the former directors.
"As a result of Rao’s actions both companies now no longer exist and the victims are left dealing with the financial consequences – and the consequences to their families' reputations – of what he did.
“The directors of these two businesses have suffered a huge amount of emotional distress throughout all of this, and I hope that today’s sentencing will give them some closure.”
Rao will serve half his sentence and it’s reported that he has also lost his house, pension and other assets.