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YMCA Finance Manager Jailed for 5 Years for Fraud

Friday 12th April, 2024

The finance manager of a YMCA systematically emptied the coffers of the charity and stole more then £300,000 which he spent on long-haul holidays, home renovations, designer jewellery, and a vast collection of rare records. As a result of his dishonesty the YMCA is on the edge of bankruptcy, has lost its charitable status, and faces having to make dozens of staff redundant and it has thrown into doubt the future of its newly-redeveloped flagship headquarters.

Sending the defendant to prison for five years a judge at Swansea Crown Court said the impact of his offending was one of the most serious he had come across in a fraud case. 

There were initial concerns at the start of his employment in 2009, after he appeared reluctant to undergo check, and he revealed he had “borrowed” money from a previous employer that he’d been unable to pay back. The YMCA decided to continue his employment to give him a chance to redeem himself. Over the next 14 years he continued his role as a trusted finance manager.

The court heard that Philpin began systemically stealing money from the charity using a range of methods including transferring money directly into his bank account, withdrawing cash on the YMCA credit card, forging signatures on cheques, and creating bogus invoices from companies for work supposedly done for the organisation. The court heard colleagues of Philpin noticed that at times he appeared to be "living beyond his means" and he explained it away by saying he had started receiving his RAF pension.

The prosecutor said concerns began to be raised in November 2022 when it became apparent that "the figures did not add up" and when questions were asked of the finance adviser he became evasive and "awkward". Eventually Philpin told the charity's chief officer that he had taken £100,000 and he was instantly dismissed from his job. An investigation was launched and the true scale of the fraud was uncovered. It also became apparent that the 57-year-old had been spending the stolen money on a "lavish lifestyle" which included five long-haul holidays, home renovations, and collecting limited edition coins, designer jewellery and watches, and amassing a vast number of records. The record collection is now valued at around £60,000.

Judge Geraint Walters told Philpin he had abused his position of trust and had "systematically" stolen money from the YMCA in Port Talbot over a prolonged period, successfully covering his tracks and duping his wife and leaving the organisation in a "precarious financial position". He said the defendant's dishonesty had called into the question the future of the YMCA's "pride and joy" – the newly-renovated and redeveloped Plaza community hub in Port Talbot – and meant services to some of the most disadvantaged people in the town, including people with alcohol and drug issues, the homeless, and youngsters with special educational needs, could not be provided. He said the harm caused was one of the worst he had come across in a fraud case.

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