Charity Commission investigates church after treasurer admits fraud

Regulator begins operational compliance case into Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic, whose national secretary has admitted taking £180,000 from it

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has opened an operational compliance case into a Christian charity whose former treasurer pleaded guilty to defrauding it of more than £180,000.

A spokeswoman for the commission said the regulator opened an operational compliance case into the Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic UK on 26 March last year, focusing on concerns about the misappropriation of funds.

The Pentecostal charity, which is based at the Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich in the West Midlands, registered with the commission in 1995. The most recent accounts available on the regulator’s website, for 2008/09, list Gerald Edmund as the charity’s national secretary and treasurer.

On 25 July, Edmund, 76, from Bristol, pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud and two counts of theft at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said that Edmund, a founding member of the church, had defrauded the charity of £186,000 between July 2010 and February 2012. She said she could not comment on how the fraud took place.

Edmund will be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday.

The commission spokeswoman said the regulator’s case focused on "concerns about misappropriation of funds and issues surrounding the charity’s governance, accounting and reporting".

The charity’s accounts for 2009 show that it had an income of £1,174,129 and spent £1,352,798. Its entry on the Charity Commission’s website show that its accounts for 2009/10 were filed on 6 August, more than 900 days late. They have not yet been published on the commission’s website.

A spokeswoman for the charity said it had no comment to make.

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