Anti-poverty charity ‘intentionally abused for criminal purposes’ by two of its directors, survey finds
In a report released today, the regulator finds that two former directors of Afghan Poverty Relief mismanaged the charity and stole hundreds of thousands of pounds intended for those the charity was set up to help. The courts have ordered them to reimburse more than £ 400,000 to the charity.
The investigation opened in 2011, following a referral to the Metropolitan Police, to investigate concerns about the governance and management of the charity, and more specifically to examine the finances of the charity. charity. The regulator was concerned about the transactions between the two trustees and the charity and it appeared that the charity was being misused for personal gain.
During its investigation, the regulator analyzed the charity’s bank accounts, as well as personal and business accounts associated with two of the charity’s former trustees. He found that in the four years to 2011, over £ 254,000 had been withdrawn from the charity’s accounts and over £ 215,000 had been paid into personal and business accounts linked to two of the former trustees of the charity.
As part of its investigation, the Commission found that the charity’s trustees had not kept adequate records; he found, for example, that many of the receipts and records examined were not dated and that it was not possible to reconcile donations recorded as having been received by the charity with deposits in the charity. charity accounts.
A trustee also violated a Commission order, including not accepting donations from members of the public on behalf of the charity.
The Commission supported the Metropolitan Police investigation and this information, along with witness statements provided to the courts by Charity Commission officials, contributed to the conviction of the two trustees in 2014. A trustee was convicted of theft and sentenced to 5 years; the other was convicted of one count of theft and four counts of fraud and sentenced to 3 years in prison. As a result, both are prohibited from serving as a charity trustee or holding a position or employment in a charity with senior management functions.
In 2014, and following the convictions of the former trustees, the Commission appointed an Interim Manager (IM) to identify the assets and liabilities of the charity, to represent the charity in forfeiture proceedings initiated by the police following convictions of the trustees and determining the future of the charity.
MI wound up the charity, transferring the remaining assets to another charity for the purpose of funding an orphanage in Ghazni, Afghanistan, which had previously been supported by the charity.
Tim Hopkins, deputy director of investigations and investigations at the Charity Commission, said:
Charity represents the best of human characteristics – this is why the behavior and conduct of those involved in charity matters. This charity was created to support vulnerable and disadvantaged people, including orphans in Afghanistan. Instead of ensuring that donations received by the charity were used for charitable purposes, two of its then trustees abused and exploited it for criminal purposes. In doing so, they committed criminal offenses, broke charity law, and exhibited behaviors that were well below legal and public expectations of how trustees should behave.
I am happy that our investigation has helped bring these people to justice and that, together with the police and the acting director, we have made sure that significant amounts, which otherwise would have been lost, are returned to charities ”.
The Commission recognizes the long standing nature of the investigation. This results from the complexities faced by the IM in transferring the charity’s remaining assets and then liquidating it.
The full investigation report is available on gov.uk.