A retired rabbi has agreed to returned £2.35 million of charity money he was holding in personal accounts. 

Barry Marcus MBE, a rabbi at the Central Synagogue London in Marylebone until he retired in 2018, had failed to distribute the funds over a number of years, the NCA said. 

The funds were received from Dalaid, an organisation that aims to relieve poverty and advance Jewish education, and The Schwarzschild Foundation, which aims to provide education and the relief of poverty for women and girls in the Orthodox Jewish faith.

A National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation began in October 2022. Marcus had received more than £1 million between January and September of the same year, the bulk of which had originated from the charities, before transferring a substantial proportion to his other UK accounts and accounts overseas.

Initial enquiries could not establish a legitimate explanation for the substantial payments. 

Between November 2022 and March 2023, the NCA applied for four freezing orders over funds totalling £1,183,072 that were held in Marcus’ accounts.

The NCA said that despite maintaining that he had distributed a substantial amount of money in accordance with the charity’s intentions, Mr Marcus was unable to provide satisfactory independent documentation to substantiate this. 

On January 31, 2024, Marcus formally agreed to return more than £2 million to the charities, almost double the funds identified in the UK and frozen.

NCA asset denial branch commander Tim Quarrelle said: “This is a fantastic result that will see millions of pounds returned to the two charities that had been deprived of them. 

“It follows a challenging and complex NCA investigation that ran over 18 months, showing the commitment of our officers to pursue every line of inquiry to reach the best possible outcome. 

“We are particularly grateful to our colleagues at the Charity Commission who are in parallel investigating issues relating to these charities.” 

In June 2023, the Charity Commission opened statutory inquiries into both charities relating to regulatory concerns. 

In particular, this relates to the operation and governance of the charities by their trustees. 

Inquiries are ongoing and the Charity Commission has put in place measures to ensure the funds returned to the charities are properly applied.

Mr Marcus was made an MBE in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list for his work on Holocaust Education.