Stephen Methuen pleaded guilty to diverting more than £500,000 from the Amblecote Christian Centre and the Christian International Relief Mission into his own bank account
An accountant has been jailed for five years after admitting to charges of defrauding two Christian charities out of more than £500,000.
Stephen Methuen, 57, cheated the Amblecote Christian Centre and the Christian International Relief Mission out of the money over a period of six years.
Methuen had been a treasurer at Amblecote Christian Centre and had made false Gift Aid claims totalling £195,000, as well as defrauding the charity out of a further £205,000. He also took £117,000 from the CIRM, an organisation that helps orphanages in the Philippines.
Methuen originally told investigators the financial discrepancies were the result of a computer error, but evidence later proved he had transferred the funds to his own bank account in order to pay off credit card debts.
He was sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court on 4 October after pleading guilty to five counts of fraudulently filing Gift Aid repayment claims. He also pleaded guilty to 12 counts of theft in relation to payments made to himself from Amblecote Christian Centre and the Christian International Relief Mission.
Graham Ranson, assistant director of the criminal taxes unit at 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."
Methuen will return to court on 29 November for a proceeds of crime hearing.