An inquiry has found that trustees of the Aid and Peace Trust were responsible for misconduct and mismanagement after spending money on a TV appeal that was outside their charity's objects.
The Commission opened a statutory inquiry in May 2014 after becoming aware of the 2012 TV appeal via the charity's website. It found “poor financial oversight”, with no annual returns submitted to the Commission since 2013.
On inspecting the charity's records and books, it also found “funds transferred to private bank accounts of individuals, with trustees unable to unable to provide assurances on how they had been spent”.
TV appeal: ‘No evidence of appropriate due diligence checks’
More than £68,000 was spent outside of the charity’s objects, including on the TV appeal which sought to raise funds for Burmese Rohingya Muslims, and on a hospital near the Savar building collapse in Bangladesh.
The charity’s objects were “to advance education in Bangladesh for young people who are socially or economically disadvantaged by providing or supporting practical and vocational training”.
The inquiry report states: “The inquiry saw no record of any discussion or decision-making by the trustees regarding the appeal, no evidence of how the trustees had considered or managed any risk to the charity, or that they had carried out any due diligence on the company and organisations involved in the appeal, which had included a non-charitable political lobbying group,” it says.
It adds: “There was no record of how the decision to organise the appeal was reached and no evidence that appropriate due diligence checks had been carried out on parties involved in the appeal, including a non-charitable political lobbying group.
“The charity’s paid co-ordinator was also employed by the television company involved and was connected to the charity’s chairperson, yet there was no evidence to show that these potential conflicts of interests had been managed.”
During the inquiry, the Commission ensured that more than £16,000 in safeguarded funds were spent in line with the charity’s objects.
The trustees have voluntarily agreed that they will not act in the capacity of charity trustee for three years.
The charity has also been removed from the register.
Amy Spiller, head of investigations team at the Commission said: “Being a trustee is an important responsibility, and one that must be taken seriously. By failing to safeguard charitable funds and properly govern the charity, the trustees of this charity put both its reputation and the public’s generous donations at risk.
“It is right that they have been held to account, and that our intervention has ensured remaining funds could be properly accounted for and distributed to good causes.”