Church leader jailed for six-figure charity tax fraud

03/04/2018 News Team

A church leader from Luton, who lied about charity donations to fraudulently claim £150,000 Gift Aid repayments, has been jailed for four years after an investigation by HMRC.

Teslim Johnson, 39, from Dunstable, used his position as a preacher and trustee at Luton’s Agape Church to steal £155,840. As a registered charity, Agape Church could claim Gift Aid on donations to the church.

However in 2016, HMRC officers contacted donors listed on the charity’s records after they became suspicious of a series of claims that were submitted. They found that most of the donations had not been made and many of the donors had never heard of the church.

HMRC investigations found that as Mr Johnson was the only person named on the church’s bank accounts, he was able to divert money from these fraudulent claims into his personal bank account.

During a search of Mr Johnson’s property investigators found documents relating to Agape Church. Gift Aid envelopes were found, but donor names and amounts did not match Gift Aid records submitted to HMRC.

Mr Johnson was found guilty after a trial at Luton Crown Court of fraud by abuse of position and money laundering. Last week (28 March 2018) Mr Johnson was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

HMRC has started the process to recover the criminal proceeds.

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