Former finance officer of charity jailed for a year after admitting £54k fraud

Gemma Ellen Mason, 36, pleaded guilty to making false representations for gain while she was employed by NSA Afan, a Welsh community regeneration organisation

NSA Afan
NSA Afan

The former finance officer of a Welsh community regeneration charity has been jailed for a year after pleading guilty to defrauding the charity of £54,000.

Gemma Ellen Mason, 36, from Neath in South Wales, was sentenced on Friday at Swansea Crown Court after pleading guilty to dishonestly making false representations to make gain.

Mason took the £54,000 from the charity NSA Afan, which is based in Port Talbot, between 1 April 2012 and 31 October 2015, when she was the finance officer for the charity.

She originally joined the charity as a volunteer finance assistant in 2006 and was promoted to finance officer in 2009 after her predecessor in the role retired, the charity confirmed.

She left the charity in January 2016 after the fraud came to light.

Mason denied the original charge of stealing £116,000 from the charity, but subsequently pleaded guilty to defrauding the charity of £54,000.

Proceeds of crime proceedings will now begin to recover lost funds.

According to the Charity Commission’s website, NSA Afan had an income of £958,890 and spent £1.2m in the year to 31 March 2017.

The charity reported the loss of £90,000 to the commission in May 2016. The commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charity to oversee the organisation’s response. The inquiry continues.

The Welsh government also launched an investigation into the charity in January 2017 and suspended £526,800 of grant funding to the charity in relation to allegations of misuse of public funds.

In a statement, Ian Isaac, company secretary at NSA Afan, said the charity was disappointed that a compromise had been reached on the charges against Mason.

"The charity has suffered a huge impact on its reputation and on the confidence of grant bodies such as the Welsh government," Isaac said.

"It continues to operate on a reduced capacity and continues to pursue other claims of fraud against its former finance officer."

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