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Montessori CEO sentenced for stealing over £180,000

Thursday 26th July, 2018

Former CEO was sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of committing a £180,000 fraud over a seven year period against Montessori St Nicholas charity.

Following two separate trials at Southwark Crown Court, he was found guilty of three counts of fraud by false representation, one count of conspiracy to defraud, and one count of fraud by abuse of position.

Shortly after joining the charity in 2003, he used the company credit card to pay for stays at hotels and a facial. Between 2012 and September 2013 he submitted three fake invoices to the charity for £4,105, claiming it was for restoring the charities artwork, his private art collection.

The fraud came to light in 2013 after the charity’s accountant became suspicious of his credit card use and reported it to the Trustees. The charity carried out an internal investigation in 2014 and he was dismissed shortly afterwards.

During the investigation the home belonging to owners of a printing firm was search, where Montessori charity spent over £618,000 with during a seven-year period up to 2014. They found documents relating to Montessori printing work, including several emails and handwritten notes on printing designs showing money being added onto invoices. Code words were used when discussing the inflated invoices with the print supplier so he could take a cut of the money.

City of London Police’s, Police Staff Investigator Jacqui Owen who led the case said: “Philip Bujak abused his position of trust to steal thousands of pounds for his own personal use. As the CEO of the charity he was able to control everything and went to considerable lengths to conceal these frauds. He worked together with his friends to pull the wool over the eyes of the charity.”

During 2009 and 2011 he also received a secret payment of £100,000 from the sale of a London property that was part of Montessori’s estate.