An employee at one of Scotland’s largest local authorities embezzled more than £1 million from his bosses over 16 years by issuing refunds to himself, a court has heard.

Michael Paterson, 59, exploited his position at Aberdeen city council to pocket a total of £1,087,444.47.

He spent the money on Apple technology, foreign holidays and eating out.

The High Court in Edinburgh was told how Paterson was a council tax and recovery team leader when he stole the money between 2006 and last year.

He had started stealing cash to pay off debts but had continued to take the money for an extravagant lifestyle, and the court heard he was still in debt when he was arrested.

Brian Gill KC, the prosecuting lawyer, told the court how Paterson had unsupervised authority to issue council tax refunds of up to £3,000.

He could also alter payee account details without “authorisation or verification” and he did so to transfer money to himself.

The prosecutor said Paterson had worked out he could benefit in situations where a householder had left a property and had not reclaimed for overpayment of their council tax.

He would then make payments into a Nationwide bank account in his name.

His scam went undetected until September 2023, when a colleague noticed that a refund of more than £2,000 had been made on a computer system using Paterson’s username.

She reported her concerns to bosses, who launched an investigation into Paterson’s activities, which revealed that he had paid more than £1 million in council tax money to himself.

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