The Charity Commission has disqualified a trustee, after he set up and collected charitable funds to help people in Syria but “badly let down both the charitable fund’s intended beneficiaries, and the public”.
The regulator opened a compliance case into the charitable fund, known as Team Syria, in April 2015 after identifying that its website invited donations to help people affected by the conflict in that country.
Team Syria was not registered as a charity, but the funds raised are legally charitable.
The Commission found there was only one trustee, who was also the founder of the charitable fund.
The trustee was part of a criminal investigation in February 2016, of which he was acquitted in December 2016.
As part of the criminal investigation, the police seized £7,691.92 of charitable funds held by the trustee.
The Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charitable fund in June 2017. It directed the police not to part with the charitable funds seized from the trustee. The Commission has since distributed these funds to two registered charities operating in Syria.
It found that the trustee had failed to adequately demonstrate how charitable funds raised had been spent, and also failed to fully cooperate with the inquiry.
The inquiry found the trustee had acted as a trustee of the charitable fund from 22 July 2013 to 14 October 2015 while disqualified from doing so.
The trustee was disqualified from acting as a trustee of a charity, or from holding any office or employment with senior management functions in a charity, for a period of seven years from 26 July 2019.
‘Reckless approach to running a charitable fund’
Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement at the Commission, said: “Our investigation into Team Syria uncovered a wholly inadequate attempt at collecting charitable funds by an individual.
“The public has a right to expect those who collect money for a charitable cause, such as helping people in need in Syria, to take their responsibilities seriously. This trustee’s reckless approach to running a charitable fund and handling funds donated by the public, badly let down both the charitable fund’s intended beneficiaries, and the public.
“I’m pleased that our intervention ensured that the charitable funds seized from the trustee went to registered charities”.