Brian Sims

Ex-London church official jailed in wake of £5 million fraud

A FORMER church official who defrauded the Diocese of London, which is part of the Church of England, out of more £5 million has been jailed. Martin James Sargeant, aged 52, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in a trial at Southwark Crown Court for the offence of fraud by abuse of position.

Sargeant was employed as an operations manager within the Diocese of London and separately engaged by some parishes as an administrator. His role included assisting individual city churches as required and distributing funds. Sargeant occipied the operations manager role from June 2009 to 2019.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Metropolitan Police Service established that Sargeant used his position to divert money out of a Church of England charity, which had itself been set up in order to fund the restoration of religious buildings.

During the 11-year period between 2009 and 2019, Sargeant defrauded the total sum of £5,211,009.22, transferring this money into his personal bank accounts or otherwise siphoning funds through cheque payments, debit card transactions or cash withdrawals.

Commenting on the case, Giorgina Venturella of the CPS stated: “Sargeant completely abused his position of trust and power to satisfy his own selfish purposes. He took money to fund an expensive lifestyle, including flying around the world and a gambling habit. Thanks to the exhaustive work of the Metropolitan Police Service and ourselves at the CPS, we secured justice in this case against a defendant who defrauded much-needed church charity funds.”

Further, Venturella noted: “We will commence proceedings for confiscation orders against any available money and assets from this crime.”

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