Rabbi returns £2.3 million to charities after National Crime Agency probe

Rabbi Barry Marcus was the subject of a ‘complex and challenging’ 18-month investigation


Rabbi Barry Marcus

The former rabbi of London’s Central Synagogue, Barry Marcus, has returned £2,350,000 to two Jewish charities after a National Crime Agency investigation.

In a statement released on Friday, the agency said his accounts had been frozen when its investigation had shown the money was not been used for the intended charitable causes.

The funds came from Dalaid, whose stated goal is to relieve poverty and advance Jewish education and the Schwarzschild Foundation, which supports Orthodox women and girls.

Both charities are under formal Charity Commission investigations, which were launched in June last year.

According to the NCA, neither charity was aware the funds held by Marcus had not been distributed.

Tim Quarrelle, NCA branch commander for asset denial, hailed a “fantastic result” following “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.”

The agency, which began its probe in October 2022, said that Rabbi Marcus had received more than £1 million mostly from the charities during the previous nine months before transferring it to UK and overseas accounts

Initial inquiries had been unable to establish a “legitimate explanation for the substantial payments,” the NCA said.

Between November 2022 and March 2023, the NCA applied for four freezing orders over funds totalling more than £1.1 million held in the rabbi’s accounts.

Although the rabbi had said he had distributed the money as the charities intended, Marcus had been “unable to provide satisfactory independent documentation to substantiate this,” the NCA said.

In January this year, the rabbi agreed to return more than £2 million to the two charities — almost double the funds frozen in his accounts.

David Sonn, Marcus’s lawyer, said the rabbi “co-operated with the NCA’s civil enquiry from the outset. All charitable monies entrusted to Rabbi Marcus have either been distributed as intended or returned to the charities from where they originated.”

The freezing orders had been settled and the UK bank accounts unfrozen, he said. “Rabbi Marcus regrets the inconvenience caused to the two charities and is cooperating with the Charity Commission.”

Marcus, who is 74, retired from Central six years ago and is widely known in the community for leading educational trips to Auschwitz and other camps in Poland.

“Rabbi Marcus has suffered from serious ill-health in the last three years“ the lawyer said. “Neither charity is involved in the Holocaust educational work, for which Rabbi Marcus was awarded an MBE. Rabbi Marcus continues to lead visits to Auschwitz and other concentration camps, when his health permits.”

Marcus resigned as a trustee from the Schwarzschild Foundation in March 2023. Its last published accounts, for the year ending December 2022, showed an income of over £5.2 million. Dalaid’s income was nearly £925,000, according to its accounts for the year ending March 2022.

Interim managers have been appointed by the commission for both charities while it continues its inquiries into “potential misconduct or mismanagement” in their administration.


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