The Luton-based charity Crisis Aid has sacked its CEO, Qadeer Baksh, for gross misconduct.
The sacking comes after an investigation conducted by an external barrister found wrongdoing by Mr Baksh had taken place.
Specifically, it found that he channelled hundreds of thousands of pounds of the charity’s money to a company that he most probably owns.
Crisis Aid has reported the results of the investigation to both the Charity Commission and Action Fraud.
Mr Baksh has called the allegations “baseless” and has said he is appealing the decision.
A statement by Crisis Aid reads: “On the 30th of June 2020 the CEO Qadeer Baksh was dismissed for gross misconduct including maladministration.
“In early March this year some serious allegations against Mr Baksh were brought to the attention of the trustees who immediately suspended him and filed a serious incident report with the Charity Commission and launched a full investigation.
“The investigation found that Mr Baksh abused his position to channel money to a company of which he was the beneficial owner. He also failed to inform the trustees the true extent of his conflict of interest and dealings on behalf of the company.
“The charity is conducting a through review of its internal governance systems to ensure this does not happen ever again.
“The trustees would like to assure our generous donors and volunteers that we will always ensure that the integrity of the charity is upheld and the good works of the charity continue.”
On its website, Crisis Aid says it is “a group of honest and kind-hearted humanitarians who wish to help the less fortunate around the world; be they victims of poverty, natural disaster or displacement.”
The charity says it started operating in 2014 to continue providing life-saving emergency aid to victims of natural and man-made disasters, especially the victims of the war in Yemen and the genocide in Myanmar of Rohingya Muslims.
Crisis Aid says it believes in order to achieve its mission and vision, it needs to be accountable first and foremost to Allah and “in that regard, we fear Allah as much as we can and conform to teachings in the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Thereafter, we are accountable to the UK Charity Commission and, finally, our stakeholders, who are our donors and trustees.”
However, 5Pillars has seen a copy of the investigation report conducted by Andrew Webster, an external barrister, which arrives at very damning conclusions.
The report says a Serious Incident Report (SIR) was submitted to the Charity Commission on April 9 after the trustees were informed that the charity’s income had surpassed £1m for the financial year and that they would therefore be required to engage an external auditor.
The SIR said: “Mr Baksh holds some financial documents in his office, both on his computer and in hard copy. At the time that auditor was carrying out its work Mr Baksh was abroad, so he asked staff to go into his office to obtain the documents required by the auditor. Whilst in Mr Baksh’s office, the staff discovered documents which suggested improper behaviour on Mr Baksh’s part…
“By way of background, the Charity regularly contracts with a company called Prestige Import & Export Limited (PIEL) to deliver aid overseas. Companies House records that PIEL’s shares and directorship are held in the name of a third party, Farasat Latif.
“Mr Baksh previously worked for PIEL as its General Manager (until 2017). In a report to the then trustees in 2017, the Commission raised concerns about Mr Baksh’s involvement in PIEL; at the time, Mr Baksh was also a trustee of the Charity. In light of the Commission’s report, Mr Baksh made a conflict of interest declaration, resigned as a trustee of the Charity and resigned as General Manager of PIEL.
“The current trustees were not aware that Mr Baksh had any ongoing connection with PIEL, except as declared in the 2017 conflict of interest. The trustees have now obtained a copy of a Will that appears to have been made and executed by Mr Baksh. The Will strongly suggests that Mr Baksh is in fact the true beneficial owner of PIEL in that the Will directs that the company should be wound up and the proceeds distributed to Mr Baksh’s heirs.’
“Further, the trustees have obtained documents that appear to show that PIEL has been making significant profits from the Charity for the goods delivered. Unbeknownst to the trustees, it appears that PIEL subcontracts the delivery of the goods to third party suppliers, some of whom the charity already deals with directly.
“Importantly, PIEL appears to invoice the Charity for a higher sum than the relevant third party supplier has invoiced PIEL for. This has not been authorised by the Charity and the Charity, no doubt, could have obtained the goods more cheaply by approaching the third party suppliers directly. Therefore, it appears that Mr Baksh has made an unauthorised and secret profit from his position and is likely to have done so by making false representations to officers for the Charity.”
The report by Mr Webster concluded that:
- There is clear evidence of links between Mr Baksh and PIEL that he ought to have disclosed to the Trustees but failed to.
- There is evidence of improper behaviour on Mr Baksh’s part in respect of his involvement with PIEL and his obligations to Crisis Aid.
- There is evidence that Mr Baksh has improperly benefited financially from dealings between PIEL and Crisis Aid.
Qadeer Baksh sent a statement to 5Pillars saying that he is appealing against “these baseless accusations,” and that the release of the Crisis Aid statement had succeeded in tarnishing his reputation and has prejudiced his legal appeal.
He said: “I would like to start by directly addressing any false rumours that have circulated on any social media platforms from those who are vindictive, and also those who are just confused regarding the allegation that I stole charity money and/or orphan funds or anything remotely similar to this false accusation. The majority of these cowardly messages were anonymous and had no authors, hence should be disregarded as possessing no credibility whatsoever.
“To directly address the rumour of alleged theft, I would like to state that I categorically deny this accusation in the strongest terms possible. This is a complete and utter lie. I swear by Allah and may the curse of Allah be upon me and my family if I ever stole money from the charity or even intended to steal. For those wanting to seek the truth in regards to this situation, I would encourage you to directly contact the Trustees of Crisis Aid themselves. Trustee Altaf Khan, who I am currently involved in an on-going dispute with, can himself testify to the fact that I did not steal any money.
“The Trustees had an obligation to prevent Crisis Aid staff circulating these evil lies to the public but they failed to do so at numerous opportunities. This obviously leads to the question: Why? Why did the trustees fail to stop the spread of misinformation regarding one of its own? Though I cannot explain the answer to this point, it is worth noting that various people, through jealousy or spite, were happy to propagate the notion that I was involved in illegal activity and outright theft.”
Here is a link to Mr Qadir’s full statement.