The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Human Appeal, and the aid charity’s chief executive has been dismissed following an “internal investigation”.
The regulator has said that it is investigating “serious concerns about its administration, including failures to account for the charity's funds and failures to adhere to the charity’s policies and procedures”. But Othman Moqbel, the charity’s chief executive, said in a statement that the allegations made about him are “terrible smears” and has launched legal proceedings against the charity.
Moqbel said that accusations are “highly distorted” and “not only personally damaging but also, more importantly, catastrophic for the charity”. He said he “therefore cannot let them go unchallenged”.
In a statement on the charity’s website, Human Appeal said that the suspension and investigation follows the charity reporting a series of allegations concerning financial and governance issues to the Charity Commission.
It said that its trustees immediately suspended Moqbel and appointed a “leading specialist auditor” to conduct an investigation.
It said that on the basis of this auditor’s report, it dismissed the chief executive, subject to his right of appeal, and are now “implementing the changes in internal processes that were recommended by the independent auditor, to ensure that this never happens again”.
It said in a statement: “Human Appeal remains absolutely determined to resolve all highlighted issues and are currently working with the Charity Commission to clarify some specific points that they have raised.”
The charity has also confirmed that Zahid Rehman, the charity’s director of communications, and Razaul Karim, its head of campaigns, resigned after they were also suspended.
‘Have not, and would never, mismanage funds’
Moqbel said that to his “shock and horror” he has “suddenly been ousted from a job” he loves, which he has dedicated the past eight years of his life”.
He said: “To be totally clear, I have not, and never would, mismanage any funds entrusted to the charity. I welcome any investigation into the charity’s works and will make myself available to the Commission if required, notwithstanding I no longer have a role at the charity.”
“I have always taken my responsibilities to our donors, staff and beneficiaries extremely seriously and to suggest otherwise is not only utterly wrong, it is also deeply hurtful. I have always insisted on the utmost transparency in our work.”
Preparing for legal proceedings
He said that while he prepares legal proceedings it would be “inappropriate” for him to say more, except “thank all those many staff, donors and other supporters for their recent good wishes to me and my family during this difficult time”.
He added: “I'm deeply proud to have lead truly selfless and dedicated professionals, each of us striving to save the lives of innocent children and adults around the world trapped in poverty or conflict. Insh Allah, God willing, I will successfully expose these terrible smears for the fallacy that they represent.”
Moqbel is also on a "temporary leave of absence" from the board of the charity leader's network Acevo, according to the membership body's website. Acevo board members must be current serving charity leaders.
A Charity Commission spokeswoman that the investigation was opened on 18 April, and that the charity’s trustees have been fully cooperative with the Commission.
It added: “Further details will be announced in due course in line with the Commission’s policy. It is the Commission’s policy, after it has concluded an inquiry, to publish a report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were.”