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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 19:41 GMT 20:41 UK
Cancer funds fraudster faces jail
Tony Freeman
Freeman was ordered to pay back 210,000 at the High Court
A man has admitted taking almost half a million pounds from his cancer fundraising company.

Tony Freeman, 40, from Glasgow, admitted fraudulently removing more than 450,000 from his business before it went into liquidation.

He said the fundraising company owed the money for a computer software deal.

Instead, the money was transferred to an account in Cyprus. Freeman was remanded in custody and will be sentenced in Glasgow next month.

Solutions Recruitment and Management Consultancy was launched in December 2000.

Lorraine Dallas
Mr Freeman took advantage of the support there is for people affected by breast cancer
Lorraine Dallas
Breast Cancer Care Scotland

Up until the middle of 2003, Freeman was paying himself 190,000 a year to run the company.

But his activities came under the scrutiny of the watchdog the Scottish Charities Office and charity commissioners south of the Border.

They found Freeman's two clients - Paisley-based Breast Cancer Research (Scotland) and their sister organisation Breast Cancer Relief based in Manchester - had paid millions for his services.

The result was that the charities' bank accounts were frozen.

Lorraine Dallas of Breast Cancer Care said: "Mr Freeman took advantage of the support there is for people affected by creast cancer sufferers.

"He will have to live with the guilt of taking advantage of that very personal experience for the rest of his life."

Breast cancer check
The charity promised to offer relief to cancer sufferers

Then a judge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh ordered that Freeman and three other trustees should play no further part in their running.

The investigation uncovered a 11.5m hole.

More than 13m had been donated but only 1.5m had been passed on to good causes.

Freeman was supposed to have collected 8m of the 11.5m in commission for his role as fundraiser.

The Scottish Charities Office claimed the cancer charity had been "used as a vehicle for Mr Freeman and Solutions RMC to collect money and charge excessive commission".

Charity commissioners in England moved in to freeze the accounts of the Manchester cancer charity, believing that Solutions RMC were also taking considerable sums from them.

Software claim

Freeman himself was banned from running any charity in the UK and in June 2003 and after the Court of Session hearing, Solutions RMC went into liquidation.

The figures uncovered by the Scottish Charities Office also prompted a police investigation which eventually led to Freeman's arrest.

The investigation found that on 30 May, Freeman pretended to staff that 450,337.65 was due to Eesh Aggarwal Ltd for providing Solutions RMC with computer software.

He even produced paperwork to back up the bogus deal and asked the firm's accountant to sign a cheque. The money ended up in the Federal Bank of the Middle East.

Sam McFaulds
I want to see Mr Freeman punished well
Sam McFaulds
Fundraiser

The court heard that Mr Aggarwal was a chartered accountant and tax specialist but not a software developer.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Freeman was ordered to pay back 210,000 of the proceeds of his crime within five weeks.

Sam McFaulds raised thousands for the charity after his wife died of breast cancer.

He said: "I raised 10,000 and it was a pleasure to do that. I would do the same again.

"But I want to see Mr Freeman punished well, I think he should rot in jail."

Advocate depute Graeme Jessop, prosecuting, said Freeman had been the sole director of Solutions RMC.

Tighter control

The company ran a lottery, door to door collections and used volunteers to sell raffle tickets. The turnover was in the region of 5.4m a year.

Freeman's guilty plea to a breach of the 1986 Insolvency Act halted plans for a five-week trial which was due to begin next week.

His not guilty pleas to other charges, including tax dodging and breaching the Proceeds of Crime Act by taking money out of the country were accepted.

The investigation back in 2003 prompted the Scottish Parliament to look at ways of bringing the country's estimated 30,000 charities under tighter control to increase public confidence.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Details of the case



SEE ALSO
Tougher charity controls in place
24 Apr 06 |  Scotland
Charity fundraiser in liquidation
06 Jun 03 |  Scotland
Cancer charity accounts frozen
23 May 03 |  Scotland

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