Charity trustee sentenced to prison for fraudulent fundraising

05 Oct 2018 News

A former charity trustee has been convicted of fraud and sentenced to five months imprisonment after admitting to fraudulently collecting money at London Underground stations. 

Obisesan Ilesanmi, 58, from South East London, was sentenced in September to five months imprisonment and 120 hours of unpaid work, after admitting to improperly fundraising for the Christian Caring Ministries Trust, of which he was a trustee. 

Alongside his custodial sentence, Ilesanmi was also banned from holding a charity trusteeship for two years. 

Ilesanmi’s conviction followed an investigation by Transport for London and the British Transport Police, which lasted more than two years.

In a statement the BTP said: “Over the course of a number of years, Ilesanmi’s charity, Christian Caring Ministries Trust, attended London Underground stations where they would operate charity box collections.

"Following a check by Transport for London’s charity coordinator in 2016, concerns were raised that donated money was not being correctly declared.”

The BTP said that it had also observed other representatives of the Christian Caring Ministries Trust not adhering “to strict rules when fundraising at stations”. 

These observations led to a search of the charity’s head office in October 2016, where more than £5,000 in cash was found and seized by BTP officers. Ilesanmi was arrested under suspicion of fraud by abuse of position.

In court Ilesanmi admitted five charges of “submitting false and misleading information to the Charity Commission, contrary to section 60 of the Charities Act 2011”.

Inspector Dan Tanner of the BTP, said: “I very much welcome this sentence. Over a sustained period of time, Ilesanmi arranged for public collections on the rail network then grossly understated the true values collected when he compiled the charity annual reports, which he then fraudulently submitted to the Charity Commission.

“We work hard to stamp out this kind of offending on the rail network and I hope this sends a clear warning that our officers are extremely vigilant at spotting fraudulent behaviour. 

“I am particularly pleased that the money we seized as part of our investigation will be divided up and given to more deserving charities. Passengers would have donated money in good faith; it is only fair it is taken from Ilesanmi and handed to a worthy cause.”

'Criminal abuse of charities is appalling'

In a statement issued to Civil Society News by the Charity Commission, a spokeswoman said the regulator would "continue to work with other agencies to bring to justice" similar abuses of charity fundraising. 

"The deliberate criminal abuse of charities is appalling, and as this case shows, will not be tolerated," she said. 

"We will continue to work with other agencies to bring to justice those who seek to abuse the generous trust of the public and discredit charities."

The spokeswoman said the case was the subject of an ongoing regulatory compliance case and, as such, the Commission was not able to comment further. 

The Christian Caring Ministries Trust has been approached for comment, but had not responded at the time of publication. 

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