Former Red Cross manager jailed for £360k fraud

Mary Booth, who worked for the charity for 33 years, stole the funds from the organisation over a seven-year period

A British Red Cross senior manager who stole almost £360,000 from the charity has been sentenced to two years and three months in prison.

Mary Booth, 56, of Croydon in south London, was sentenced at Paisley Sheriff Court in Renfrewshire last week for embezzling £359,551 from the charity’s accounts over a seven-year period.

Booth was the charity’s payroll manager when, in November 2008, she began making payments that were apparently directed towards current and former employees of the charity but were actually going to accounts set up in her own name.

When she retired in August 2015 after a 33-year career with the charity, other members of staff noticed discrepancies in the accounts and uncovered her theft.

Booth began siphoning money off when she worked at the charity’s headquarters in central London, but after it moved its payroll operations to Paisley in Scotland in 2008 she also moved and continued to defraud the charity.

She pleaded guilty at a hearing at Paisley Sheriff Court last month.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said the charity undertook an independent forensic financial audit once the crime was discovered, and had strengthened its financial controls and procedures.

This included limiting access to parts of the charity’s financial systems and tightening controls and checks on payments, which Adamson said should prevent the fraud reoccurring.

"We were devastated to discover that a long-serving employee in a position of trust had defrauded us," he said. "Every day we strive to help some of the most vulnerable people in the UK and overseas and for our trust to be abused in this way is really, really disappointing.

"This member of staff was trusted to handle our money and that has given us cause to think long and hard about how we tighten up our procedures. 

"We are deeply shocked that someone from within the Red Cross community would betray our cause and our trust in this way. We are doing everything we can to recover the lost funds. We are relieved that this matter has come to its legal conclusion."

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