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Former finance officer of Carnival Village Trust (CVT) Nadia Deone Chase-Ali has started a six-year jail sentence for stealing nearly £800,000 from the charity.
Between March 2014 and December 2016, the 34 year old Trinidadian made 530 transfers into her private account disguised as payments to legitimate suppliers, service providers and HM Revenue & Customs. In total, Isleworth Crown Court heard, Chase-Ali stole £178,630.97 from CVT and £605,631.59 from TW11, the trading arm of CVT that runs The Tabernacle arts and community centre in Powis Square.
Some of the cash was used to refurbish her home in North Kensington, but most was transferred to Trinidad, where it was used for property purchases, extravagant parties and to starting up a company. The £784,262 that Chase-Ali stole equates to more than TT$7 million, which she tried to hide by stealing financial documents that might highlight her illegal activity. According to the Metropolitan Police, “she stole from the charity and company a significant number of financial documents including outstanding invoices, payment demand letters and financial statements. These were found at her home address when she was arrested on 16 March 2017.”
Nadia Chase-Ali lived at Bonchurch Road, according to police. However, her accounting and financial management company, NDCA Professional Services, was registered at 60 Tavistock Road, which she appears to have shared with her partner, rap poet Gerard Vincent Ali, and 10-month-old child. Gerard Ali and Nadia Chase-Ali were both directors of Ali’s Trinidadian Catering (formerly Gouva Supplies), which was also registered at the latter address; both companies were dissolved after her arrest. Online sources also list her as owner/director of Chase Apartment Rental Ltd.
Chase-Ali came to CVT with high credentials. She gained her MBA and Certificate in International Auditing at Oxford Brookes University. Her graduate profile states that she studied Charity Accounting at the prestigious Cass Business School, and worked at City accountancy giant Ernst & Young from 2006 to 2010. From March 2015 she was treasurer of Elimu Mas Academy. Unconfirmed online listings state that she was also finance director for the British Paralympic Association.
The damage to CVT – which earlier this year was appointed organiser of Notting Hill Carnival – has been considerable. Its accounts dated March 2016 state: “The group incurred a net deficit of £244,452 during the year ended 31st March 2015, and at that date the group had net current liabilities of £192,749 and a closing surplus on unrestricted funds. These conditions… indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the group’s ability to continue as a going concern”.
Sentencing her on 13 July, Judge Mark Dennis QC said that by siphoning off money for her personal use, Chase-Ali had cynically betrayed the trust put in her by CVT and had threatened the very existence of a charity that is at the heart of its local community.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Chase-Ali was sentenced to five years and 10 months for fraud, two months to be served consecutively for theft, and three months to be served concurrently for removing criminal property from the UK. Andrew Caird of the CPS commented that she showed, “complete disregard towards making a gain from taxpayers’ money as well as the effect her dishonesty could have had on such an important community event”.
Quoted in the Evening Standard, TW11 director Matthew Phillip said he felt disgusted by the theft, which only came to light when new accountants were hired. “I feel betrayed personally, and the community feels betrayed,” Phillip said.