A church trustee and former banker has been charged with defrauding fellow parishioners out of more than £5 million.

Patrick Coppeard, 49, from Spring Grove, Loughton, was arrested in May last year after claims he had encouraged congregation members at St John's Church in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, to hand over money to a fraudulent investment scheme.

The former employee at Merrill Lynch investment bank was arrested after voluntarily attending a police station.

Today Essex Police said he had been charged with fraud by abuse of position between 2008 and 2011.

It is claimed there were more than 60 victims of the alleged scam .

Some are said to have lost up to £250,000.

Coppeard has been bailed to appear before Chelmsford Magistrates Court later this month, the force said.