Aids charity founder accused of inventing bogus donations in £100,000 tax relief scam
- Credit: CENTRAL NEWS
An Aids charity founder who blamed Bob Geldof’s Band Aid campaign for corruption in Africa was the mastermind of a £100,000 scam on the Government’s gift aid scheme, the Old Bailey heard.
Eyob Sellassie, 45, stands accused of inventing more than £415,000-worth of bogus donations to African Aids Action, a charity he set up in 2007 to tackle the deadly disease.
He allegedly used details of more than 1,000 people bought from a marketing agency to try to con the tax relief scheme gift aid.
Investigators found some of the people were dead, while others said they had not given money to Sellassie’s charity.
When quizzed about the claims, Sellassie blamed a lodger at his home in Snowdrop Court, Mardyke Avenue, Rainham – but refused to reveal where he was.
Sellassie hit headlines in November 2007 by claiming Band Aid and the work of U2’s Bono and Bob Geldof increased corruption and left African governments dependent on overseas aid.
He has denied two counts of fraud by false representation accused of making two claims to the gift aid scheme on June 3 last year.
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Prosecutor William Hays said when Sellassie was arrested and interviewed in September last year, he said the claims had been made by his lodger Tesfai Teckle. Sellassie said he argued with his flatmate and called HMRC to withdraw the claims that had been made.
But the court heard investigators could find no trace of Mr Teckle at Sellassie’s home or connected to the charity.
A database of 5,000 names supplied by a marketing data firm was recovered from Sellassie’s home, which was also the registered address of African Aids Action Ltd.
Sellassie is accused of claiming £104,008.25 in gift aid tax relief in two batches in June last year.
The trial continues.