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Ex-church official jailed for over £5m fraud against the Church of England

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A former church official who defrauded the Diocese of London, part of the Church of England, out of more £5 million has been jailed today (19 December 2022).

Martin James Sargeant, 52, was sentenced to five years imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court for an offence of fraud by abuse of his position. 

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

The CPS and the Metropolitan police established that Sargeant used his position to divert money out of a Church of England charity, which had been set up to fund the restoration of religious buildings.

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

Giorgina Venturella of the CPS said: “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 bank rolling a gambling habit.

“Thanks to the exhaustive work of the Metropolitan Police and the CPS, we secured justice in this case against a defendant who defrauded much needed church charity funds.

"We will commence proceedings for confiscation orders against any available money and assets from this crime.”

The CPS is committed to working with law enforcement agencies to stop activities of charity fraudsters and bring them to justice.

Notes to editors

  • Giorgina Venturella is a specialist prosecutor for the CPS Serious Economic Organised and International Directorate (SEOCID)
  • SEOCID was launched on 1 April 2022 and is the CPS’s response to the changing nature of crime by bringing together specialists in organised and economic crime as the lines in these areas of crime continue to become more blurred
  • Martin James Sargeant (DOB: 1/10/1969) pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court

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