Fundraiser Who 'Fleeced' Charities Admits Cash Fraud; Businessman Faces Jail Following Investigation into [Pounds Sterling]11.5m Accounts Hole
Byline: BRIAN HORNE
A HIGH- FLYING fundraiser who fleeced millions of pounds from cancer charities was behind bars last night.
Tony Freeman was a leading figure in Scottish charity circles until a probe revealed he had pocketed [pounds sterling]8million intended for good causes.
The shocking discovery three years ago dented public confidence in charities, saw donations plummet and led to stringent new charity regulations in Scotland.
At the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, the 40-year-old admitted fraudulently removing more than [pounds sterling]450,000 from his company just before it went into liquidation by pretending his firm owed the money for a computer software deal.
Instead, the money ended up in a bank account in Cyprus, while 84 staff lost their jobs and creditors lost their money.
Freeman launched his firm, Solutions Recruitment and Management Consultancy, in 2000. He paid himself [pounds sterling]190,000 a year to run it, hiring himself out as a professional fundraiser.
The company ran a lottery, door to door collections and used volunteers to sell raffle tickets, with a turnover in the region of [pounds sterling]5.4million a year.
But in 2003, the Scottish Charities Office and charity commissioners in England found that his two clients - Paisley-based Breast Cancer Research (Scotland) and its sister organisation Breast Cancer Relief, based in Manchester - had paid millions for his services.
The charities' bank accounts were frozen and a judge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh ordered that Freeman and three other trustees should play no further part in their running as the investigation uncovered a [pounds sterling]11. …