The Charity Commission has said social media stars Hasanat and Umm Abdullah put around £200K of charity money into their personal bank accounts.
An inquiry is highly critical of the pair (real names Mohammed Hasnath and Ruksana Ali) who raised money for Rohingya refugees but could not show how all funds were used.
The Commission has redistributed approximately £196,000 of the money Hasnath and Ali raised and both have been removed as trustees from the fund and disqualified.
The pair, who had millions of social media followers, first attracted controversy last year when a number of allegations were levelled against them, including the misappropriation of money.
Shortly afterwards Umm Abdullah (Ruksana Ali) issued a statement accusing her husband Hasanat of physical and mental abuse, as well as being the sole reason for her living a double life.
The couple operated two online fundraising platforms creating a fund for Rohingya refugees. Whilst they never registered the fund as a charity, its stated purpose made it charitable under the law.
In 2018, the Commission discovered they were asking for donations to their personal bank accounts. Information on the platforms showed over £200,000 had been donated to the fund.
The balances in the trustees’ personal bank accounts, when frozen during the inquiry, was around £145,149.79. This figure was £68,748.81 less than the total funds raised of £213,898.60.
The inquiry therefore considered that £68,748.81 of charitable funds could not be properly accounted for. Given the mixture of charitable and personal funds the inquiry concluded that the funds had potentially been used for non-charitable private expenditure by the trustees.
The Commission inquiry also found:
- There were no governance or financial controls in place to protect and apply the funds raised
- Funds had been transferred into six personal bank accounts and a PayPal account, mixing it with personal money already in these accounts
- There was insufficient evidence of activity by the charitable fund
The Commission has removed both trustees from the fund and disqualified them from acting as trustees or holding a senior management function at a charity.
Steve Roake, Head of Compliance, Visits and Inspections at the Charity Commission, said: “Charities exist to improve lives and strengthen society, so it is vital that trustees fulfil their responsibility to act in the best interests of their charity at all times. Instead, this inquiry uncovered misconduct by these trustees who likely allowed funds to go astray and demonstrated a disregard for the standards and behaviours expected of them. It’s right we’ve removed these individuals from acting as trustees.
“We’re glad we’ve been able to use our powers to protect the remaining funds and ensure this money has now safely reached the cause for which it was intended. The Commission has transferred the remaining £196,528.58 raised by the fund to two registered charities that support Rohingya refugees.”
Ruksana Ali has denied any accusations of financial wrongdoing and has said she is only guilty of being disorganised.
5Pillars has contacted Mohammed Hasnath to respond to the Charity Commission report and is awaiting a reply.