Charity finance manager jailed over £170k invoice fraud

A charity finance manager has been jailed over a fraud to steal £170,000 using fake invoices from a London-based charity for vulnerable people

Rushna Choudhury of Gravesend, Kent, who worked at Social Interest Group, a charity set up in 2014 support charity or social enterprises in the health and social care sector, was sentenced to four and a half years at Blackfriars Crown Court on 28 May.

She stole £171,933 from the charity between June 2016 and August 2017.

When police went to arrest her, she was found hiding in a garden shed, and claimed she had taken an overdose. Designer clothing and accessories were also found at her home.

In her position as finance manager, Choudhury had oversight of the charity’s bank accounts and was able to access funds. She used colleague’s email logins to transfer money from the charity’s accounts into personal bank accounts used by her and her son, and used fake invoices to create a paper trail.

Judge Alexander Milne QC told Choudhury she was ‘somebody who seeks to manipulate the system’.

He said: ‘You were employed in a position of responsibility and the fraud was sophisticated, involved substitution of invoices, left a trail that covered yourself. You did it to enrich yourself.

‘You poisoned the atmosphere and are responsible for the deputy chief executive ending his employment because he felt responsible that under his watch you had been stealing from a charity that helped those in need.’

Choudhury had previously been sentenced for fraud at a housing organisation, involving theft of £77,750 in 2013, which her solicitor, Susan Wright, said had put pressure on her to repay that debt, saying that this ‘meant she became increasingly panicked and saw the only way out was to do what she did before’.

The Social Interest Group reported charitable income of £14m in its 2018 accounts filing with related charitable expenditure of £13.8m, according to the Charity Commission, and has 345 employees.

Sara White

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