Bill for too much faith is 6.2m pounds : Naivety led a Salvation Army colonel into a questionable scheme. Steve Boggan reports

'WE HAVE an expression in the Salvation Army: We hate sin, but we love sinners.'

That was how General Eva Burrows, the head of the Salvation Army, yesterday described the charity's new relationship with Colonel Grenville Burn, the man whose faith and naivety cost pounds 6.2m.

It was Col Burn's inflated sense of trust and his blind desire to raise impossible sums of money for the charity that allowed Stuart Ford and Gamil Naguib, two financiers, to allegedly spirit away the dollars 8.8m he gave to them in a none-too-elaborate scheme that promised ludicrously high profits.

Col Burn had been head of public relations - which involves fund-raising - for only a short time before he was introduced to Mr Ford, 41, who once claimed to have served in the SAS. Mr Ford's schemes excited Col Burn, but terrified a three- strong committee of senior financial advisers from the City who told the Salvation Army to steer clear as long ago as last April.

However, the advisers reckoned without the inherent weaknesses built into the system. Senior administrators are culled from ordained ministers who grow in seniority with years of service, rather than on expertise. The charity's officers are provided with homes, cars and a salary of only pounds 3,500, so their grasp on financial affairs could be called into question.

When investigators discovered that Col Burn's name, rather than the Salvation Army's, was on the deeds of a pub in Scotland that had been part-bought with some of the missing money, they took it as evidence of his complicity. However, they soon changed their minds.

'You have no idea how naive this guy was,' one officer said. 'If you have ever bought a house, you know about deeds and charges, so we thought he should have known too.'

Col Burn had decided to plough on with a plan to buy standby letters of credit, banking devices that can be bought at a discount before their date of maturity and sold at full face value when that date is reached.

Col Burn and Col Ivor Rich, the business administration secretary, were given permission by Commissioner John Larsson, United Kingdom head of the Salvation Army, to invest dollars 10m ( pounds 6.62m) in such letters of credit. As signatories to a bank account opened in Antwerp, Cols Burn and Rich had control of the money with a third signatory, Stuart Ford.

When Mr Ford introduced Gamil Naguib to the plot, Mr Naguib asked for the money to be put into an account, with Naguib, Ford and Burn as signatories. Without telling his superiors, Col Burn agreed and, as a minority signatory, the Salvation Army had lost control of the money. It vanished soon after.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue