Detectives believe a finance boss suspected of stealing more than £500,000 from his employer may have faked his own suicide.

Simon Carroll, 43, went missing at the same time as nearly £600,000 vanished from the accounts of a building supplies company last March.

A BMW car belonging to the businessman was later found abandoned near cliffs at Beachy Head, near Eastbourne.

But more than a year after his disappearance it has emerged that police believe he may have used the money to start a new life overseas.

No-one has been arrested over the theft from the firm where Carroll worked as a finance controller in Purfleet, Essex.

A police source said Carroll, of Shoeburyness, Essex, was "resourceful and clever" and held two passports, including an Irish passport which has never been found.

The source told a national newspaper: "His confession just before he disappeared seems to make things a little too neat and tidy. And his body has never turned up.

"It increasingly looks like he staged his own death and could be living anywhere in the world."

The former City worker was a flamboyant figure with a taste for expensive cars and high-living. He owned a replica Starsky and Hutch car which he took to film premieres and club openings.

Scotland Yard said detectives at Romford CID continue to probe an allegation of fraud made in May last year, two months after he went missing.