Charity vows to recoup losses after finance officer embezzles £200,000 to fund gambling addiction

A charity, which was a victim of more than £200,000 fraud carried out by its gambling addicted finance officer, has pledged to continue its fight to recoup its losses.

The British Society of Echocardiography’s former finance officer Manjinder Virdi, 37, of Rathmore Road, London, was sentenced to three years in prison this week for embezzling more than £200,000 from the charity.

He pleaded guilty to fraud by abusing his position at the charity, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

At the hearing the court heard how Virdi had a gambling and depressive disorder that fuelled his crime.

The charity says that Virdi’s assets are being investigated “to try and secure some repayment”. A hearing on this is due to take place in September.

“This has been a long process and a huge amount of work for all involved,” said the charity.

“We know it was very upsetting for our members, but we have emerged as a stronger organisation and will continue to seek compensation on behalf of our members.”

Virdi had joined the Poplar, London, based charity in 2015 as a financial administrator and was later promoted to finance officer, which gave him access to the charity’s bank and PayPal accounts.

In May 2019 another member of staff at the charity was alerted by its bank about potentially fraudulent activity in the accounts.

Virdi had claimed he had spoken to the bank about the issue, but the charity became suspicious and within two days of the initial concern Virdi was arrested at his desk.

It emerged that he had siphoned more than £200,000 of charity money into his own personal bank accounts over a 20-month period and that “thousands of pounds in deposits had been made to online gambling websites”, according to the Metropolitan Police.

"Virdi was entrusted to manage and protect the company's finances and he completely abused his position and the confidence placed in him, almost as if he expected to get away with it,” said Detective Constable Gavin Markey, of the Central East Command Unit CID.

“Virdi tried to play his colleagues for fools when they were initially contacted by the bank but they knew something was not adding up and their suspicions were confirmed. Their efforts and support during our investigation has been invaluable in ensuring Virdi’s conviction and sentencing.”

In one series of fraudulent transactions in 2018 Virdi took more than £85,000. Another spate of transactions the following year saw him steal more than £53,000.

“These staggering sums of money were then frittered away via online gambling websites,” added DC Markey.

Since Virdi’s crimes were uncovered the charity says it has put in place more robust financial controls, reviewed its governance arrangements and appointed a financial trustee, who is a qualified accountant with experience of charity finances.

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