Couple who stole more than £350,000 from charity jailed

A man and woman who defrauded a charity out of more than £350,000 have been sentenced to a total of eight years imprisonment.

Syed Hajnajafi and his wife Akila Kassam, both of Bellwood Road SE15, were on 24th April 2014 at the Old Bailey found guilty of theft of charitable funds, under Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968.

Hajnajafi was on 22nd May 2014 sentenced to five years and Kassam was sentenced to three years.

Hajnajafi and Kassam were trustees of the Afghan Poverty Relief charity, but abused their position to divert the charitable funds to their own personal and business accounts.

Between 2005 and 2011, they fraudulently withdrew over £350,000 from the charity to fund their lifestyle, spending the money on luxury cars and foreign holidays.

Police arrested Hajnajafi and Kassam on 2nd November 2011 and they were charged on 9nd May 2013.

Temporary Commander Duncan Ball said: “Hajnajafi and Kassam betrayed the trust of their colleagues and those who made donations to the Afghan Poverty Relief charity in good faith. We would like to thank the Charity Commission for their assistance in this investigation.”

This case should serve as a warning to those running charities. Funds meant for charity must only be used for that purpose, not for personal use.