A Muslim charity for Iraqi orphans has been closed down after the Charity Commission found that over £1m of its funds could not be properly accounted for.
Orphan Relief Fund and Charitable Trust was set up to support young people in Iraq who had lost one or more of their parents.
But five trustees have now been removed or disqualified from charitable activity following several serious regulatory concerns about its governance and financial management.
This included £998,746.13 being transferred from the charity’s bank account purportedly for use in Iraq, but without the trustees being able to provide the Commission with evidence of how this was spent.
Further concerns included that payments had been made from the charity to the chair of trustees for personal expenditure.
The chair of trustees was Wathib Salman Al-Amood. The names of the other trustees are Ahmed Al-Amood, Husham Al-Amood, Bushra Al Neama and Sulieman Adam.
After the inquiry opened, the Commission learnt that the charity had transferred a further £88,515.63 purportedly to Iraq for its charitable work. The regulator immediately froze the charity’s bank accounts to protect its remaining funds.
The inquiry found failings by five of the charity’s trustees, including failing to:
- Provide any records that demonstrated how over £1m had been expended, purportedly in Iraq, in response to a Commission direction requiring information
- Demonstrate proper financial controls and accountability over the charity’s funds
- Set up sufficiently robust governance measures to prevent decision-making being controlled by its chair
- Protect over £10,315.15 of the charity’s funds which were paid to the chair of trustees for his own personal expenditure. Despite assertions that this money had been repaid to the Iraqi based charity, no evidence was offered to support this claim
Tim Hopkins, Assistant Director of Investigations and Inquiries at the Charity Commission, said: “The public expect charities to make a real positive difference for the people they help or the cause they pursue. Charities must use their resources efficiently and effectively and be accountable to those that support them and to the Commission as regulator. Former trustees of this charity failed to meet these expectations.
“I hope other trustees consider this case carefully and note particularly their shared responsibilities to ensure that their charity’s funds are applied solely for its charitable purposes and are fully accounted for.”