Charity finance officer steals £171,000 to repay money stolen from previous employers

The Social Impact Group was unaware that Rushna Choudhury had stolen almost £80,000 from the housing association she had worked for in 2013

Rushna Choudhury
Rushna Choudhury

A charity finance manager has been jailed for four and a half years for committing fraud worth £171,000.

Rushna Choudhury, 46, used the funds she diverted from the Social Interest Group to repay money she had defrauded from a previous employer.

Choudhury, of Gravesend, Kent, failed to attend a police interview before eventually pleading guilty, Blackfriars Crown Court in London heard.

Judge Alexander Milne, QC, described Choudhury as "somebody who seeks to manipulate the system".

Her actions, he said, had considerable impact on the London-based charity, which provides a group structure for health and social care organisations that retain their individual identities while sharing back-office functions.

"By your actions you poisoned the atmosphere in the organisation and are responsible for the deputy chief executive ending his employment because he felt responsible that under his watch you had been stealing from a charity that helped those in need," he said.

The Social Interest Group was unaware that Choudhury had defrauded £77,750 from a housing organisation she worked for in 2013 because she had not been convicted when it recruited her.

Between 24 June 2016 and 17 August 2017 she created bogus invoices and transferred payments intended for the charity to her own accounts.

Her crimes came to light when another member of staff was contacted by a company that had paid an invoice but not received credit for it.

The Social Interest Group received about £111,000 for the loss from insurance.

According to the charity's latest accounts for the financial year ending 31 March 2018, it has income of £14m and employs 345 staff.

Susan Wright, representing Choudhury, said: "She was given a second chance but found herself unable to pay back the £77,500 she owed.

"She became increasingly panicked and could see no way out, other than to do what she had done before."

The court was told the charity commissioned an external report on how the fraud was committed.

Nobody at the charity was available for comment when contacted by Third Sector.

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