The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that Martin Sargeant, former Head of Operations in the Two Cities, has been charged with fraud and money-laundering, dating back to between 2009 and 2019. Mr Sargeant left the Diocese in 2019, following a review of his role instigated by the new Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally. At the time there was no suspicion or evidence of criminality but, last year, the London Diocesan Fund (LDF) made a report to the Action Fraud unit of the Police, and a serious incident report to the Charity Commission, after a parish raised concerns about funds they had not received.
Over the past year, the LDF has worked closely to support the Police and to maintain the confidential, sensitive nature of their complex investigation at the Police’s request. Trustees of the LDF were first informed on a confidential basis, with permission of the Police, earlier this year. Any church or other organisation known to be relevant to these enquiries has already been approached as part of the investigation. The fraud is historic in nature, and does not relate to Common Fund or the present day funding of parishes. The Police’s work has involved extensive analysis of financial records relating to both the Diocese and the individual over a long period and the securing of a court order to freeze the individual’s assets. The total sum of money involved is believed to be in the region of £5m, affecting a number of different organisations.
Richard Perry, Chair of the London Diocesan Fund’s Audit and Risk Committee:
“Following the reporting of our concerns to the Police, our priority has been to support their work, and to do all we can to secure the defrauded funds. Our independent auditors have also carried out an urgent review of our present-day financial controls, to confirm they are robust. A second independent inquiry will report to the London Diocesan Fund’s trustees and look at what happened and how, and will make any further recommendations for the future, once the current case has been closed.”
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, said:
“This appears to be a gross betrayal of trust for all those who knew and worked with this individual. After I came to the Diocese in 2018, his role was reviewed and he left the following year. While there was no evidence of anything inappropriate at the time, with the further information that has subsequently been uncovered, it now seems he exploited his position for personal gain.
“I want to thank the Police, and the London Diocesan Fund’s financial team, for their work over the past year, as they continue to investigate the extent of this complex fraud that was perpetuated over a decade.”
The LDF continues to support the Police with their investigation but will not be able to comment further publicly at this time.