Douglas Brown, managing director of cashew nut oil manufacturing company Palmer UK, caused 10 of his employees to lose their jobs after the company could no longer afford to keep them. The firm may be forced to close after Brown stole the money by writing false cheques and creating fake invoices.
During the hearing at Teesside Crown Court, the court was told how Brown used the money to buy a £1.1m house in Florida, an £800,000 house in England and BMW cars.
Brown admitted 30 charges of obtaining money transfer by deception from Palmer UK between November 1995 and February 2007.
Kevin Palmer, joint chief executive of the Pennsylvanian parent company Palmer International, said: “We have suffered enormous stress, financial hardship and may even close as a result of these hardships.”
Brown joined Palmer UK in 1984 and became managing director in 1990.