Poverty charity dissolved after Commission finds 'serious misconduct'

21 Feb 2019 News

An international poverty charity has been dissolved, and its trustees disqualified after a number of failings including a trustee using charitable funds for personal activity, the Charity Commission has said.

Save the Needy Worldwide was dissolved last week after the Commission found that its trustees were responsible for “serious misconduct” and “mismanagement”.

A statutory inquiry was opened in 2016 and the Commission has today published the report detailing its findings.

It found that between January 2015 and September 2016, one of the charity’s trustees, Yusuf Kenan Oguz withdrew £43,000 of charitable payments for payments insurance and a personal vehicle. He was ordered to repay the charity, but failed to. The other trustees said that they were unaware of this activity.

Save the Needy Worldwide existed to relieve poverty through the provision of goods and services and financial relief to disaster zones. It opened in 2015.

Police concerns

The inquiry was opened in July 2016, after Bedfordshire Police told the Commission that Oguz had been stopped at Luton airport with some £3,260. Oguz said that the money was to be used for a Syrian refugee school, however the money was seized by the police due to concerns about money laundering.

Further concerns were raised when the Commission discovered that Oguz was a trustee of another charity, Worldwide Ummah Aid (WUA) which is subject to an ongoing statutory inquiry due to Oguz taking £12,000 of charitable funds through Heathrow Airport.

Following these activities, Oguz was removed as a trustee in December 2017, a decision that was upheld after he appealed in a tribunal in June 2018.

The Commission had previously made a compliance visit to the charity in 2015 in which it raised concerns about poor financial management, lack of records of use of funds and poor governance. The charity was given an action plan to ensure it improved.

The inquiry found that the charity failed to supply the Commission with the correct information and had failed to comply with the action plan developed after the compliance visit. The charity also filed its annual reports late in all the years it operated, from 2015 to 2018.

'Poorly managed' 

The inquiry report said that the “charity was poorly managed and not properly administered by the trustees”.

The charity was run by three trustees, Oguz, Eric Lloyd, and Mahmoud Hatamikia. The report added that Lloyd and Hatamikia “demonstrated a very limited understanding of the charity’s activities and admitted that they deferred decisions to [Oguz].”

Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement said: “The public rightly expects trustees to respect the trust afforded to them as custodians of their charity, as well as the privileged legal status charities enjoy.

“Our inquiry found that the trustees of Save the Needy Worldwide were responsible for a series of failings at their charity amounting to serious misconduct and mismanagement. It’s therefore right that robust regulatory actions have been taken against those responsible. The charity has also been dissolved as a result of our action.

“The Commission strongly advises charities against the use of cash couriering as a method to transfer charitable cash due to the risks involved. The effects of a cash seizure include the charities’ beneficiaries losing out, an impact on the charities’ activities and the loss of donor money - including the permanent loss of funds. In this case these risks materialised and there was a loss to the charity.”

Civil Society News could not reach the charity for comment.

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