Accountant charity fraudster jailed for five years
The treasurer of a Christian charity, who stole over £500,000 from two charities through claiming false Gift Aid contributions and transferring cash to his personal bank account, has been jailed for five years.
Accountant Steven Methuen of Stourbridge, who controlled the finances of Amblecote Christian Centre, made false Gift Aid claims totalling £195,000. He also siphoned off a further £205,000 from the charity and £117,000 from a related charity called Christian International Relief Mission, who help children’s orphanages in the Philippines.
The joint investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and West Midlands Police discovered that the cash had been transferred to Methuen’s own bank account.
When interviewed, Methuen told HMRC investigators he was innocent and the discrepancies were due to errors with computer software. However, digital forensic analysis of computers by HMRC and West Midlands Police proved this to be a blatant lie. He had transferred around £517,000 to his own account and paid off his personal credit cards.
Graham Ranson, Assistant Director Criminal Taxes Unit, HM Revenue & Customs, said:
“Methuen was ruthless in his campaign to steal these substantial funds. He gained the trust of the organisations over a number of years and held a respected position. This did not satisfy him or provide any sense of loyalty.
“The Gift Aid scheme is designed to benefit charities, but Methuen continued to falsify business records for his own financial benefit. The prison sentence handed out by the courts today sends out a clear message that crime does not pay and the community will be horrified to learn he exploited and stole from these charities and the taxpayer, in a sustained and methodical way, over a number of years.”