The Charity Commission has banned a man from being a trustee after he misled the regulator about his identity and about six charities’ finances.
Opas Tamba Jimmy-Kay has been banned from being a trustee or senior manager at a charity for 15 years – the longest possible term – after the Commission found him responsible for mismanagement and misconduct.
In an inquiry report covering seven charities connected to Jimmy-Kay, the Commission said that in six cases there was not enough evidence of charitable activity and has removed them from the register.
Jimmy-Kay had used two different names, charities he was involved with had submitted misleading information to the Commission and one charity had incurred a debt to a vehicle lease company over a Mercedes Benz.
Amy Spiller, head of investigations at the Charity Commission, said: “Mr Jimmy-Kay misled the Commission extensively about his identity and about the work of these charities. His behaviour was entirely at odds with what we expect from trustees and we’re glad, through proactive investigation, that we’ve uncovered his elaborate deceit.
“Charities exist to do good and trustees should demonstrate the highest standards of behaviour and conduct. It’s right we have disqualified this individual for the longest time possible and removed his charities from the register. We hope this serves as a cautionary tale to others who might consider using charities for their own purposes.”
One person using two names
The Commission opened the inquiry in April 2019 after identifying financial concerns and seeing that Jimmy-Kay and another person James Grantham were listed as trustees of most of these charities.
When the regulator met with Jimmy-Kay, it discovered that he held a second driving license under the name of James Grantham.
Jimmy-Kay had changed his name by deed-poll to James Grantham and then changed it back, but used both names simultaneously.
The addresses and dates of birth listed for other trustees were also variations on Jimmy-Kay's details, and after they could not be contacted the regulator concluded that they do not exist.
A second trustee, Kai Manyeh who had been involved with Hope Direct, was also disqualified for five years for his role in the financial and governance failings at that charity.
One charity, Kono District Development Association UK (KDDA UK), which supports people living in the Kono District of Sierra Leone and refugees and immigrants from this district now living in the UK, was able to demonstrate that it was doing charitable work.
Jimmy-Kay resigned as a trustee of KDDA UK. The charity was taken out of the class inquiry in October 2019 after the Commission provided advice and guidance about accounting.
The other six charities submitted annual returns to the Charity Commission which stated that their income and expenditure was wildly different to that shown through bank statements.
In one case the income found in the charity’s bank account was £90,000 more than had been reported in the charity’s annual return or accounts.
In four cases there was no evidence of any charitable activity and none of them could show that funds had been used for exclusively charitable purposes.
“The Commission concluded that the information that had been submitted to the regulator was false and misleading and gave the reader the impression that the charities were being well run when in fact they were not,” the report reads.
All six charities were removed from the register.
Vehicle hire debt of £7,000
At one charity, Social Action and Poverty Alleviation, the 2016 accounts record an £84,000 spend on vehicles.
An inspection of the books found lease contracts relating to several vehicles within the charity’s records (an Audi A4, two Mercedes Benz, a Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover Discovery and a Nissan Juke).
“Opas Tamba Jimmy-Kay confirmed that a number of vehicles were leased over this period but at no expense to the charity, although they were used by both the charity and his private company,” the report says.
“The inquiry found a Mercedes Benz was leased in the charity’s name. Opas Tamba Jimmy-Kay informed the inquiry that he paid for the vehicles’ insurance through his private company but there were no records to evidence or support this or the usage of the vehicles.”
However, the charity’s books showed receipts for petrol “which appeared excessive” with little detail about what the charity work involved.
The report adds: “Opas Tamba Jimmy-Kay told the inquiry that vehicles were required to collect and transport beneficiaries to/from their homes to charity premises for educational activities. No evidence could be provided to show who the beneficiaries were. The inquiry was unable to establish what expenditure the charity had incurred on vehicles and their usage or why the charity acquired or needed such vehicles.”
Furthermore, the Commission discovered that the charity had an outstanding debt of £7,000 relating to the Mercedes Benz vehicle.
Repayments for the vehicle came from the charity’s account but when the lease company attempted the direct debit between November 2016 and March 2018 payments were refused due to lack of funds. The bank account was subsequently closed.
“On 17 May 2018 the vehicle was recovered by the vehicle lease company and a debt recovery company sought payment of the outstanding £7,172.83 from the charity,” the report says.
“The inquiry found that it is entirely improbable that Opas Tamba Jimmy-Kay was unaware of the financial obligation under the terms of the contract given he had signed the leasing documentation using his alias James Grantham and finds that on the balance of probabilities, by closing a bank account which he knew was the account from which payments for the car were to be made and by failing to provide an alternative he did not take adequate steps to deal with a liability which had been incurred in the charity’s name.”