Charity finance officer must repay part of stolen £119k

A finance officer for a Northern Ireland charity has been ordered to pay back £79,045.98 stolen using fake invoices following confiscation proceedings

Nuala McLaughlin from Ballymena was convicted for fraud by abuse of position and theft in April 2022 after stealing £119,779 from her employer, Antrim Enterprise Limited, where she worked as a finance officer.

The confiscation case relating to McLaughlin was concluded on November 10 at Antrim Crown Court with a criminal benefit amount of £119,779.88 and a recoverable sum of £79,045.98.

Following her conviction by Newry Crown Court on 7 April 2022 she was given an 18-month sentence, made up of a six-month prison term with the rest on licence, for fraud by abuse of position and theft.

The case related to a criminal investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s crime investigation branch (CIB) Antrim in relation to fraud by abuse of position at the charity Antrim Enterprise from July 2013 to December 2019.

McLaughlin was a finance officer for Antrim Enterprise Ltd and over a six-year period she stole a total of £100,656 using fake invoices and transferring money from the charity’s bank account to her own.

The fraud first came to light in December 2020 when an audit uncovered a series of unauthorised money transfers from the charity’s account to a Nationwide account which was not on the list of recognised payees.

When the charity questioned McLaughlin she initially denied the allegations, but the following day admitted that the bank account was in her name, at which point the charity reported it to the police.

Compliance orders have been granted directing her to have all payments made within 30 days.

Antrim Enterprise have indicated that they did not believe they would have had the majority of the fraud returned to them and can now use the money, which was critical to their future, to further develop their charity causes.

Antrim CIB worked with the Economic Crime Unit to carry out a detailed investigation identifying the loss to Antrim Enterprise which was the basis of the confiscation/compensation case.

Sara White |Editor, Accountancy Daily

Sara White is editor of Accountancy Daily...

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