A former charity manager accused of taking part in a six-figure fraud involving her charity and two organisations she set up has gone on trial.
The trial of Feeraz Begum, manager of the Lancashire-based children’s disability charity Caring Today, who is accused of defrauding Lancashire County Council out of the money, began at Preston Crown Court last week.
Begum, 45, of Reedley Road, Brierfield in east Lancashire, is charged with conspiracy to defraud and furnishing false information after allegedly using the charity to defraud the council over a four-year period from 2009, claiming £146,000 for provision of care for children with disabilities that was never carried out.
She is alleged to have used two companies she set up, Face 2 Face Associates UK Ltd, a company listed to her home address, and Homecare & Domiciliary Network Ltd, to create false invoices that were then submitted to the council via the charity.
Six other defendants have also been charged with playing a part in the fraud. These include Begum’s husband, Mohammed Fayyaz, 50, also of Reedley Road, Brierfield, and her brother, Mohammed Nawaz, 43, of Vernon Street, Nelson, Lancashire, who are both charged with conspiracy to defraud.
Asima Parveen, 29, of Camden Street, Nelson, is charged with furnishing false information, while Sarah Irshad, 33, of Cambridge Crescent, High Wycombe, Anam Iqbal, 25, of York Street, Nelson, and Farhat Afsar, 50, of Kelswick Drive, Nelson, face charges concerning the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property.
All the defendants deny the charges.
The charity, which was founded in 2002, provides respite facilities for children and young people with learning difficulties in east Lancashire as well as an after-school club, a youth club and a carers group.
In the year to March 2014, the charity’s funding fell to just £600, although its spending was £29,556. In 2013, the charity had an income of £15,735 and spent £74,775, according to the Charity Commission.
In the financial year before that, the charity had an income of £138,708 and spent £174,198.
The charity was contacted by Third Sector, but nobody had responded before publication.
The trial is expected to continue for the next six weeks, according to a court spokesman.