A FRAUD accused Greenock man and his elderly mother went on trial charged with an alleged sting against a US oil company totalling more than half-a-million pounds.

Paul Galbraith, 50, stole £513,200 in a fake invoice swindle and deposited the money into 72-year-old mum Dora's Nationwide Building Society account, it is claimed.

Prosecutors say he then used £240,000 of the cash to buy himself a house in an upmarket street in Inverkip.

A jury was told yesterday how Galbraith was the project manager of a multi-million pound construction job for Texas-based Oil States Industries when the money is said to have gone missing.

He claims that the cash was a 'bonus' agreed with the company's UK managing director, Gary Steven, for ten months of work on the heavily delayed build.

Boss Mr Steven told the trial that 'suspicions' he'd been harbouring about Galbraith were confirmed in an 'interesting letter from America' which sparked an urgent audit.

Mr Steven said: "Paul started to act odd and he disappeared from the site."

Paisley Sheriff Court heard how the letter contained 'specific allegations' about alleged discrepancies.

Mr Steven said: "Given the contents of the letter we were all checking and our finance director pulled out invoices he was concerned about."

The court was told how Mr Steven's bosses in Houston alerted him to the problem in 2016 and that the audit focussed on an initial invoice from 2013.

It is alleged that Galbraith, of Bailey Grove, Inverkip, pretended that payments were due for industrial materials from a fictitious company called ECCC Ltd between December 1, 2013 and January 20, 2015.

He had been in charge of a project to build a new facility for Oil States Industries at the Heartlands Business Park in Whitburn, West Lothian.

It was alleged that Galbraith and his mum, of Stafford Road, Greenock, both 'acquired criminal property' in the form of the alleged stolen money and 'converted' it through the purchase of the Inverkip house on December 20, 2013.

UK MD Mr Steven said that the project had spiralled out of control and had become a 'disaster' at the hands of Galbraith, who was was working for a firm called Space Solutions.

He said: "I told Paul over the phone that he was misleading me and he told me that he wasn't, even though he obviously was."

Mr Steven said that the alleged bogus invoices had no VAT or company registration numbers for ECCC Ltd.

He added: "The mistake I made was that for the first year-and-a-half I left Space Solutions to get on with it.

"I never had a report from Paul in months.

"The letter was a relief. I had all these suspicions and then this letter turned up and confirmed everything to me.

"Paul was the key guy — the project manager. He was the leading light of the project."

Asked about Galbraith's 'bonus' claim, Mr Steven said: "I've never given anyone a half-million-pound bonus for ten months work — not even given a £50,000 bonus.

"I'm still fixing this factory now."

He added: "For the last three years I've had a bunch of lawyers going through every email — everything."

The court was told that the original completion date for the project was December 2014 but it was still not finished by October 2015.

Asked by prosecutor David McDonald if he would have been in a position to offer Galbraith a bonus, Mr Steven replied: "No."

Fiscal depute Mr McDonald asked: "Did you suggest to him, 'Stick in invoices under a false company name and we can get you half-a-million quid'?"

Mr Steven replied: "No."

Galbraith and his mother Dora denied the charges against them.

Galbraith’s mother has subsequently had the charges against her dropped.

The trial, before Sheriff David Pender, continues.