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Aids charity founder facing jail after being convicted of fraud

PUBLISHED: 17:45 17 September 2014 | UPDATED: 12:33 18 May 2018

Aids charity founder Eyob Sellassie, 45, from Rainham, who is accused of inventing more than £415,000-worth of bogus donations in a tax relief scam

Aids charity founder Eyob Sellassie, 45, from Rainham, who is accused of inventing more than £415,000-worth of bogus donations in a tax relief scam

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An Aids charity founder who blamed Bob Geldof's Band Aid campaign for corruption in Africa while masterminding a £100,000 scam on the Government's gift aid scheme is facing jail after being convicted of fraud.

An Aids charity founder who blamed Bob Geldof’s Band Aid campaign for corruption in Africa while masterminding a £100,000 scam on the Government’s gift aid scheme is facing jail after being convicted of fraud.

Eyob Sellassie, 45, invented more than £415,000 of bogus donations to African Aids Action, a charity he set up in 2007.

He used details of more than 1,000 people bought from a marketing agency to try to con a six-figure sum from the tax relief scheme.

Investigators found some of the supposed doners were dead, while others said they had not given money to Sellassie’s charity.

When quizzed about the claims, Sellassie tried to pin the blame on a lodger but refused to reveal where he was.

Sellassie hit headlines in November 2007 by claiming Band Aid increased corruption and left African governments dependent on overseas aid.

He was convicted after trial at the Old Bailey of making two fraudulent claims to the gift aid scheme on June 3 last year.

The judge Miss Recorder Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC bailed Sellassie ahead of sentence and ordered reports.

She told him: “I am only just persuaded to order a pre-sentence report in your case because you are a man of previous good character and relatively mature years.”

Prosecutor William Hays said when arrested and interviewed in September last year, Sellassie blamed a lodger called Tesfai Teckle.

But investigator Janet Callanan said she could find no trace of Mr Teckle at Sellassie’s home in Snowdrop Court, Mardyke Avenue, Rainham, or anyone of that name connected to the charity.

An auditor for HMRC, said charities attempting to claim gift aid have to submit a trust deed and spreadsheet of donations.

Sellassie denied two counts of fraud by false representation.

He will be sentenced on 10 October.

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