Worldwide Ummah Aid, a charity where money was used to pay for a television, a Mercedes car and dental work, has been dissolved after a Charity Commission investigation.
The Commission published the findings of its inquiry today, saying trustees had been “reckless” and that the charity had been removed from the register in March.
In 2014, one of the charity's trustees was stopped by police at Heathrow airport carrying significant sums of cash while on their way to Turkey. This prompted the Commission to open an inquiry.
The trustee was the sole signatory for the charity’s bank account for transactions up to £15,000, and bank statements showed that over half the charity’s income had been withdrawn in the days leading up to the flight to Turkey.
Police seized £12,100 of the charity’s funds, and the Commission secured their return to the charity.
Poor financial management
In the inquiry report, the Commission said it had found evidence of poor financial management and governance.
It said it appeared that some money was not accounted for and that charity money had been used for things like a television, DVD player and dental work. The charity was also making loan repayments for a Mercedes car owned by the trustee who had been stopped from carrying the cash.
Amy Spiller, head of investigations team, said: “The public rightly holds trustees to a high standard of conduct. Charities hold a special status in society and trustees should be their careful custodians, ensuring all decisions are taken in the best interest of the charity’s mission and purpose.
“The trustees of WUA were reckless with charitable funds and acted against Commission advice by carrying cash overseas. This practice is high risk and put valuable charitable funds in jeopardy.
“Through their misconduct and mismanagement, the trustees jeopardised the trust that donors placed in those responsible for the charity. It’s therefore right that the Commission acted to disqualify the trustees responsible.”
The trustee who had been stopped at Heathrow was removed by two other trustees but set up a new charity.
That charity was also the subject of a Commission inquiry and in the course of that inquiry the trustee was removed and disqualified.
The other two trustees have been removed and disqualified by the Commission.
Worldwide Ummah Aid’s remaining charitable funds, £90,586.74, were transferred to another charity, Kashmir Relief and Development Foundation.