The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Muslim Aid, but trustees are appealing the decision via the Charity Tribunal.
In December 2018 the Commission closed an inquiry into Muslim Aid, but said it would monitor the organisation for two years.
The Commission confirmed that it was unhappy about the progress that Muslim Aid had made towards its action plan that was issued during the previous investigation.
However, Muslim Aid has appealed the to Charity Tribunal, which has scheduled a remote hearing for mid-July.
In a statement the Charity Commission said: “The Commission opened an inquiry in September 2020, over concerns about the charity’s governance and management, including its failure to fully implement an action plan issued during a previous statutory inquiry. The decision to open the Inquiry has been appealed and is due to be considered by the Charity Tribunal.”
Muslim Aid said it was co-operating with the Commission, but thinks the decision to open a statutory inquiry should be reconsidered.
In a statement Muslim Aid said: “We can confirm that the Charity Commission has opened an inquiry and that Muslim Aid has appealed this decision with the Charity Tribunal. We continue to actively co-operate with the commission and have asked for the decision to open an inquiry to be reconsidered.”
Regulatory engagement since 2010
The regulator has been engaged with Muslim Aid since 2010 when a regulatory compliance report made a number of recommendations to trustees, including about working with partners abroad.
In 2012 the charity submitted a serious incident report regarding financial irregularities in two African field offices. This led the Commission to open a statutory inquiry in November 2013 because the regulator was concerned about “the sheer scale of concerns about the charity’s financial management”.
The Commission issued trustees with an action in plan in 2015, but in October 2016 an interim manager was appointed because the Commission felt that the trustees had not made enough progress.
An entirely new board was appointed and a new body was established as a charitable incorporated organisation to take over Muslim Aid’s work. The original organisation was renamed MA 1985 but subsequently ceased operating.
Halved its workforce last year
For the financial year ending December 2019 Muslim Aid had an income of around £30m, but expenditure was £33m
Its 2019 annual report, the most recent available, states that in early 2020 it had begun a review of its business model.
This explains that “previous costs for fundraising in relation to its return, and other costs, were at an unacceptable level”.
Therefore in 2020, it says, the charity “halved the workforce in the UK and are considering further measures”.
It is also reducing its presence in country offices and shifting towards working with partner organisations.
Jehangir Malik, who had been chief executive for nearly four years, left Muslim Aid in spring 2020. Kashif Shabir became acting chief executive, before being appointed to the role permanently.