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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Food bank treasurer embezzled vital funds


Colleagues grew suspicious

A former treasurer of a food bank and community shop has narrowly avoided jail after admitting embezzlement.

Mhairi Borland took £4,500 from Lochee Community Larder in Dundee and transferred it into her own bank account.

She initially said it was an administrative error with prosecutors originally accusing her of stealing £25,000.

Fiscal depute Laura Farquhar told the court: "She was the treasurer and was the only person with access to the charity's online bank account.

"In March 2021 they received funding to move to larger premises. Refurbishments started in July that year and in August a contractor sent an invoice seeking the outstanding balance for work.

"This was brought to the attention of the accused and she advised that due to a fraud investigation the money held in the account and bank cards had been frozen."

When the contractor said it would call in a debt agency, Borland’s colleagues grew suspicious and realised the charity’s accounts had not been frozen.

On further investigation, the charity discovered that Borland had sent £4,500 to her own bank account.

She told police: “I didn't steal it - I just didn't return it."

Solicitor Ross Donnelly, defending, said: "She understands what it is she pled guilty to. She was highly emotional and upset.

"This is clearly a woman who has been markedly affected by the court procedure and what she has been through. She is in employment.

"She has a good social structure and a supportive family. She stated that the money was taken to cover various personal expenses that she was unable to vouch for.

"It is her view that she did not personally benefit from the embezzlement. She recognises that the money she took was not reimbursed.

"She was in charge of the money and couldn't account for the money taken from the business account. She is not disputing that money was transferred to her personal account."

Borland was sentenced to 200 hours unpaid community work with Sheriff Neil Kinnear saying: "This is a serious matter. You said you were not administering it properly and not keeping proper records.

"You have been involved in embezzling £4,500 from a charity so I have to take a serious view. This is the sort of thing which could result in a custodial sentence.

"You were not using it to finance the high life and holidays and the like, so I am persuaded that an alternative to custody is appropriate."

A not guilty plea to a charge of stealing a laptop from the charity between January and June 2022 was accepted.



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