Harpenden Church treasurer jailed | Advertiser Herts

Published:
10:52 am March 7, 2022



A church treasurer in Harpenden has been jailed for financial irregularities in his role with a major IT company.

Tim Coleman, 57, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison and disqualified for serving as a trustee for 10 years at Southwark Crown Court.

He had been convicted of two offenses of false and misleading market statements and three offenses of false accounting, in his role as chief financial officer of Redcentric, an IT services provider and AIM-listed company.

Tim had been Treasurer of St John’s Church in St John’s Road, Harpenden since April 2020, and was also a Trustee of the Parish Church Council (PCC), although there is no suggestion of malpractice in the one or the other role during this period.

The Reverend Tim Vickers, Vicar of St John’s, told his congregation at the Sunday service: “As a church we have supported and prayed for Tim and his family, and everyone involved, during the trial. This will continue as Tim is convicted and begins his prison term.

“His conviction, and its implications, is something we take seriously and following his conviction Tim has resigned, effective immediately, as Treasurer and Trustee of St John’s PCC.

“As we enter the season of Lent, a season of penance in the liturgical year, we mourn the evil that has been done, but we hold all our wrongdoings before God, knowing that God’s love for us remains loud and endless.

“We are grateful for the work Tim has done as Treasurer and thank him for his time, effort and commitment.”

The court heard that Redcentric published false and misleading unaudited interim results in November 2015, and false and misleading audited final year results in June 2016.

Both significantly overestimated Redcentric’s cash position – by £13.1m and £12.2m respectively – and consequently misstated its net debt position by the same amount each time. . When the true position was revealed, shareholders suffered immediate losses in the value of their shares.

Mr Coleman was found to have inflated the cash position presented to Redcentric’s board and used the same false figures to reassure key investors about Redcentric’s financial situation, persuading them not to sell their investment in the society.

As a result of misrepresentations, Redcentric’s share price was artificially inflated, meaning investors paid more to buy shares than they were actually worth.

Sentencing Mr Coleman, Judge Martin Beddoe observed: “Your offense was persistent, material and substantial, breaching an exceptional degree of trust. Your actions have harmed Redcentric plc and the trust of the audience in the city.

“The chief financial officer of a public company – of any company – is expected to demonstrate the highest standards of integrity. It is the foundation on which a company, its directors and its shareholders entirely depend. When people like you have failed seriously, they should expect severe punishment.”

Estelle Croft, 49, a former chief financial officer at Redcentric, had previously been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of misrepresentation and false accounting. Ms Croft was also ordered to pay £120,346.70 following forfeiture proceedings.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market surveillance at the Financial Conduct Authority, said: “The crimes committed by Mr Coleman and Ms Croft were serious and caused harm to investors.

“The sentence imposed reflects the seriousness of the crimes and should act as a deterrent to anyone considering committing similar offences. We will now proceed with forfeiture proceedings against Mr. Coleman.”

Jerry B. Hatch