Verdict in £5m Gift Aid fraud case

Four people were accused at Southwark Crown Court of inventing donations to two charities from people who did not exist

Southwark Crown Court
Southwark Crown Court

A father and son and an accomplice have been found guilty of stealing £5m in a Gift Aid fraud involving money claimed on donations that did not exist.

John Davies, 58, of Esher in Surrey, and Olsi Vullnetari, 38, of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, were found guilty at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court yesterday of two counts of cheating the public revenue and one count of money laundering between June 2005 and January 2014.

John Davies’s son Benjamin, 31, of Manchester, was found guilty of one count of money laundering during the same trial.

The three were accused of taking Gift Aid paid by the government to two charities, the Sompan Foundation, which is a poverty charity, and the migrant charity the Kurbet Foundation. Both charities, which are based in Kingston-upon-Thames in south-west London, have not filed any accounts since 2012.

John Davies’s daughter Melody, 28, of Shrewsbury, who was also accused of cheating the public revenue in the same case, was cleared of all charges.

The court was told that many of the people said to have donated to the charities did not exist and fraudulent tax repayments worth almost £3.3m were claimed on behalf of the Sompan Foundation and more than £1.7m for the Kurbet Foundation.

Money from the Sompan Foundation was allegedly sent to 15 countries, with nearly half going to Hungary, where the Davies family owned a holiday home, the court heard. 

Vullnetari was a trustee of the Sompan Foundation from 2004 to January 2008, when he was replaced by Benjamin Davies.

According to the Sompan Foundation’s annual accounts for 2011, the most recent available on the Charity Commission website, Benjamin Davies resigned as a trustee in 2011.

John Davies, Benjamin Davies and Vullnetari will be sentenced on 13 May.

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