THE former head of counter-fraud at Oxfam is facing jail for taking more than £64,000 from the charity.
Edward McKenzie-Green admitted carrying out the fraud when he became addicted to prescription painkillers.
The Old Bailey heard fraud expert McKenzie-Green, 34, created invoices for firms he had set up and then paid the cash into bank accounts, including his father’s. He became paranoid through his use of drugs and stockpiled £64,612 for when he thought he was going to be fired by Oxfam.
Shoppers and one of the charity’s first volunteers were left shocked at his conviction.
After McKenzie-Green pleaded guilty to fraud yesterday, a money laundering charge was dropped against his father, Edward Green, 62.
Oliver May, Oxfam’s head of counter-fraud, said: “Oxfam uses donations from the British people to help eradicate poverty and suffering across the world.
“For someone to commit fraud and use that money for their own gains is clearly unacceptable.
“The actions of Edward McKenzie-Green were brought to light by Oxfam’s own robust counter-fraud measures and we work tirelessly to ensure that money donated to Oxfam is not lost through the actions of rogue employees like McKenzie-Green. We will now work to try to recover the money taken.”
McKenzie-Green was released on bail ahead of sentence, but was warned by Judge Timothy Pontius: “Because of the amount of money involved and the circumstances in which the fraud was carried out, a prison sentence is a likelihood.”
The defendant hung his head in the dock and appeared to wipe away a tear during the hearing.
McKenzie-Green submitted the false invoices himself and because of his position he could ensure they were paid, the court heard.
The companies were firms that he had set up and controlled and the cash was paid either to his father’s bank account or to that of a friend.
McKenzie-Green even invented a man called Keith Prowse, who corresponded with Oxfam to explain why the payments had to be made.
His barrister Matthew Sherrat told the court: “During the period up to January 2014, the defendant had a very serious addiction to prescription medication.
“At the same time his marriage, which he was attempting to hold together, was failing.
“He was involved in quite a high-pressure job. He had a very good career and had enjoyed a responsible position.
“He suffered a breakdown and was moved to a psychiatric hospital.”
Mr Sherrat said McKenzie-Green had been “paranoid” and was treated in hospital for a month.
“He was putting money aside effectively in the expectation of losing his job,” the barrister added.
The judge agreed to adjourn the case so that psychiatric reports can be prepared.
Father-of-one McKenzie-Green, of The Leys, Chipping Norton, has no previous convictions.
He admitted fraud by abuse of position, while a charge of theft of a laptop computer was dropped.
His father, of Scott Crescent, Cumbernauld, Glasgow, was cleared of concealing criminal property between February 1 and December 1, 2011.
McKenzie-Green will be sentenced on May 16.
His actions were condemned by Katharine Ross, 92, one of the charity’s first volunteers.
Mrs Ross, from Summertown, who still knits bedspreads for Oxfam, said: “He shouldn’t have done this – it’s dreadful and he must have been desperate.”
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “It is always particularly shocking when someone is accused of stealing from a charity, especially one which is helping people in such desperate poverty as Oxfam is.
“It’s good that Oxfam’s own internal oversight picked this up, and Oxfam’s rigorous approach to fraud will I hope reassure those who donate to the charity that their money is properly looked after.”