Finance worker embezzled £350,000 from major charity’s Scottish base

A former finance worker with a major global charity is facing jail in Scotland and the prospect of having to sell her house to pay back the nearly £360,000 she has admitted embezzling from the organisation over a seven year period.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard this week how Mary Booth, 56, “a trusted and valued” British Red Cross employee for 34 years siphoned off £359,551.27 from the charity’s accounts and into her own between 1 November 2008 and 31 August 2015.

She had worked at the British Red Cross offices in Smithhills Street, Paisley, Renfrewshire, and Moorfields in London, near Moorgate underground station where she had access to the charity’s bank accounts and BACS payment systems in her role that earned her £45,000-per-year before she retired with a full pension and lump sum.

The court heard how Booth stole the cash by creating a ruse of sending money to former delegates and staff.

In February 2016, once Booth had retired, Deborah McBean, the charity’s Head of Control and Compliance, noticed irregularities in payments from the year before.

Eamonn O’Donnell, the charity’s Head of Transactional Operations, discovered there was “no appropriate paperwork” attached to a number of suspect transactions.

Once they discovered the money had been embezzled, the British Red Cross had the bank accounts the money had been paid into frozen.

While pleading guilty, Booth, of Croyden, South London, claimed she had needed the money so she could feed her online gambling habit after splitting from her husband.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: “We were devastated to discover that a long-serving employee in a position of trust had defrauded us. Every day we strive to help some of the most vulnerable people in the UK and overseas and for our trust to be abused in this way is really, really disappointing.”

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