Charity finance manager stole over £200,000 from his employer to fund gambling addiction

A former British Society of Echocardiography finance manager has been jailed after embezzling more than £200,000 from the charity to fund his online gambling habit.

Manjinder Virdi, 37, of Rathmore Road, Charlton, was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday after pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position under the Fraud Act 2006.

Virdi joined the Poplar-based charity as finance administrator in 2015 and was later promoted to finance manager, a role that gave him access to ESB’s bank and PayPal accounts.

On May 20, 2019, a staff member of the charity received an email from their bank regarding potentially fraudulent activity on their accounts.

The email was forwarded to Virdi, who was asked to review it in his capacity as finance officer. Virdi then told his colleagues that he had spoken to the bank and that it was a fraudulent email, which should be ignored.

However, after the ESB Vice President became suspicious of Virdi’s response, they contacted the bank independently and discovered that a number of payments had been made to Virdi’s personal accounts.

A police investigation later established that Virdi transferred more than £200,000 into his personal bank accounts over a 20-month period. Thousands of pounds in deposits had been made on gambling sites.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that Virdi was assessed as having a gaming disorder and a depressive disorder, which contributed to his actions.

Commenting on the decision, Detective Constable Gavin Markey of the CID East Central Command Unit said Virdi had “tried to play his colleagues for fools”.

“Virdi has been entrusted with the management and protection of the [charity’s] finances and he completely abused his position and the trust placed in him, almost as if he expected to get away with it,” Markey said.

“In a series of transactions from October to November 2018, he took just over £85,000. From February to May 2019, he stole just over £53,000. These staggering sums of money were then wasted via online gambling sites.”

Markey added that the charity’s efforts and support during the investigation had been invaluable in securing Virdi’s conviction.

In a statement shared with Third sectorESB administrators said: “It has been a very difficult time for everyone involved. The individual involved was a trusted member of a small team. We have been working closely with the police since May 2019 to ensure it has all the required evidence.We have also reviewed and strengthened all internal systems.

The statement continued, “It has been a long process and an enormous amount of work for everyone involved. We know it has been very upsetting for our members, but we have become a stronger organization. We would like to thank DC Gavin Markey for his help in closing the case.