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Chief executive defrauds charity of more than £700,000

The former chief executive of charity Age Concern South Tyneside has been found guilty of defrauding the organisation out of more than £700,000.

According to court documents, Join Briers, 57, was using fake invoices to award himself unauthorised bonus and pension payments between 2007 and 2015.

The court was told that Mr Briers had abused his position of trust over an eight-year residency as the head of the charity.

During that time, the chief executive was found to have made out over 60 cheques into his own account, consisting of 12 unauthorised bonuses and 19 additional pension top-ups.

The fraud was uncovered after a financial manager discovered that a supporting document for one of the payments appeared to be fraudulent. He was suspended soon after the investigation was launched.

“The reason it caused me concern, the reason it came so quickly to mind, was the fact the VAT was wrong,” Mr Cassidy told the court.

He added: “It didn’t feel like a good quality invoice, it didn’t feel like a real invoice.

“It looked like something that had been photocopied.”

Investigators also discovered templates of blank invoices for firms the organisation had worked with after Mr Briers’ office was searched.

Prosecutor Anthony Dunne told the court: “The defendant is charged with three offences of fraud by abuse of position.

“The position he held was that he was chief executive of a charity, Age Concern South Tyne.

“The case against him is he dishonestly used that position to fraudulently pay to himself large amounts of Age Concern’s money.

“He made most of those payments simply by writing out cheques to himself.

“He then covered his tracks by pretending that those fraudulent payments were either payments to companies who had supplied good and services to Age Concern or bonus payments that were approved by the charity’s board of trustees or special payments, also agreed by the board, or a sub-committee of the board.

“The defendant created false documents to explain those fraudulent payments.

“’In the end, he was caught out because one of the documents he created contained obvious mistakes and the finance manager with the charity noticed.

“In total, he stole over £700,000 from the charity through these means.”

He denied all three allegations of fraud earlier this year. He will now await his sentence, for which he has been told will be “significant”.

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