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Charity trustee stole £240,000 and bought property, regulator finds

03 Jun 2020 News

The trustee of a charity that ran a donation platform stole £240,000 which had been mistakenly transferred by a third party, the Charity Commission said yesterday. 

According to an inquiry report published yesterday, the charity, named GTC, has now been removed from the regulator's register of charities. 

In October 2019, Ahtiq Raja, the only trustee of the charity, was found guilty of theft at Northampton Crown Court and was sentenced to a 24-month community order.

The Buckinghamshire-based charity operated a fundraising platform called Give to Charity. It was meant to relieve poverty in the UK mainly in the area around Aylesbury.

The charity regulator launched its investigation in December 2018 over concerns about the charity’s governance and financial management. 

Investigators obtained bank records and established that around £240,000, the majority of which had been mistakenly paid to the charity by a third party, was transferred from the charity’s bank account to the trustee’s private bank account. 

The funds had been used to purchase a property which was held in the name of a private company of which the same individual was the sole director and the sole shareholder. The funds have now been repaid to the third party.

In breach of its governing document 

The inquiry also found poor governance at the charity, which was operating in breach of its governing document. It had just one trustee in the years leading up to the inquiry, meaning there were no other trustees to oversee and assist in decision-making processes or to appropriately manage conflicts of interest.

Raja also failed to comply with a direction under the Charities Act which required him to attend a meeting and provide information to the Commission.

As a result of his conviction, he is now automatically disqualified from acting as a trustee or from holding a senior management role in any charity in England and Wales.

The charity no longer operates and was removed from the register of charities on 9 April 2020.

Amy Spiller, head of investigation teams at the Charity Commission said: “This charity was set up to improve the lives of people suffering financial hardship, but sadly this individual betrayed those good intentions.

“Our investigation uncovered appalling behaviour by someone who was in a position of trust, and it is right that they have been held to account for their actions. This case also exposed what can go wrong when there is a lack of oversight and poor governance within a charity.”

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