FRAUDSTER Edward McKenzie-Green received a “golden handshake” of £29,000 to leave Oxfam after he had defrauded the charity of more than £64,000.
McKenzie-Green, the former head of counter-fraud at the international aid charity, was jailed yesterday for two years and five months.
He had been swindling funds – which could have bought 600 latrines, 8,000 buckets for carrying and storing water, and hygiene kits for 1,400 families – at a time when he was investigating misconduct by aid workers following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
That disaster killed an estimated 160,000 people and made 895,000 homeless in 2010.
Judge Wendy Joseph told him: “You have taken from those who desperately needed substantial sums of money. Worse, you have undermined the public confidence in a charitable institution.
“You were head of a department set up to counter fraud. This was a profound abuse of the trust invested in you.”
McKenzie-Green, of The Leys, Chipping Norton, resigned from his job in November 2011 and the court heard he left with a £29,000 “golden handshake”.
Prosecutor Adam King said the charity’s internal investigations into McKenzie-Green began in December 2010.
He said: “He had demonstrated an erratic, disorganised and even combative approach to his work.”
McKenzie-Green was sent to Haiti to investigate other aid workers but concerns about him persisted after he returned and he faced disciplinary proceedings. He eventually resigned.
An Oxfam spokeswoman last night could not say whether or not the charity would try to get back the £29,000 “golden handshake”.
Following his resignation investigators discovered he had filed 17 bogus invoices from two companies totalling £64,612.58 between February and November 2011.
One of the invoices contained the phrase “Haiti Confidential”.
The father-of-one was arrested in April 2012 and he had claimed he was the victim of a corrupt conspiracy among senior staff at Oxfam, before he admitted fraud by abuse of position.
He finally admitted one count of fraud by abuse of position.
In a statement read out in court, Oxfam’s counter-fraud adviser, Phillip Dunn said the case had damaged the reputation of the charity.
He said: “Oxfam is trying to become a world leader in counter-fraud investigation and to have the head of counter fraud contribute to that is immeasurably damaging.”
McKenzie-Green’s barrister Matthew Sherrat said his client had been addicted to prescription medication and said: “At the same time his marriage, which he was attempting to hold together was failing.”
McKenzie-Green had been “paranoid” and was treated in hospital for a month.
Mr Dunn added: “He was putting money aside effectively in the expectation of losing his job”.
Oxfam is still collecting money for the recovery effort in Haiti following the earthquake.
Spokeswoman Christina Corbett said: “His fraudulent activities were made apparent by Oxfam’s own counter-fraud measures. Since then our strict background checks on future employees have been strengthened further.
“We have also introduced measures to stop this kind of incident being able to happen again.
“Now that Mackenzie-Green has been sentenced, we will continue to make every effort to recover the funds lost.”
It is understood that this could involve further court action to reclaim the stolen £64,000.
Dc Joseph Hines, of City of London Police, which investigated the case, said: “Edward McKenzie-Green was employed to protect Oxfam from fraud but instead went down a path that saw him con the charity out of tens of thousands of pounds and then fritter it all away.
“What makes his crime even worse is that the money he took and spent had been donated to help people in need. The loss of his job and his liberty reflect the depths to which he sank in pursuit of his own personal pleasure.”