A poverty relief charity where money was spent on personal items, including repayments on a Mercedes car, a TV and dental work, has been dissolved.
Worldwide Ummah Aid (WUA) had been set up to relieve poverty in Eastern Europe and the Middle East but has been removed from the charity register after a Commission inquiry.
In addition, three trustees have been removed as trustees from the charity, two by the regulator and another by fellow trustees.
The closure of the charity follows an investigation by the Charity Commission that found that the charity was making loan repayments on a Mercedes car owned by one of the trustees.
An inspection of the Charity’s premises by the regulator found a lack of evidence of what the charity’s funds were being spent on and £57,000 worth of unaccounted cash withdrawals.
Some of the receipts appeared to be for personal expenditure, including for a TV, DVD player and dental work carried out on the trustee (known as Trustee A) who was removed by the charities’ other trustees.
The regulator first began investigating the charity in 2014 when Trustee A was stopped by police at Heathrow airport carrying more than £12,000 of charity funds.
The regulator’s inquiry found evidence of misconduct and/or mismanagement in the charity’s administration by the trustees.
Among concerns was that Trustee A was the only signatory of the charity’s bank account transactions of up to £15,000. Statements showed that money had been withdrawn amounting to more than half the charity’s total income. Many of these transactions happened in the days before Trustee A’s flight.
“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,”: said Amy Spiller, Head of Investigations Team at the Charity Commission.
“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.”
Trustee A had sought to set up another charity, but was removed as a trustee of this organisation by the regulator. This trustee is disqualified from working for any charity, either as a trustee or member of staff.