Charity and trustees removed for ‘serious abuse’ of funds

The Charity Commission has removed a charity and its trustees from its register, after an investigation uncovered ‘serious abuse’ of its funds, including spending on gym memberships and TV subscriptions, and no evidence of any charitable activity

The regulator initiated a statutory inquiry into Islamic Global Trust after Manchester city council alerted it to concerns that the charity had incorrectly claimed business rates relief on property it rented, but where no charitable activity was being carried out.

Islamic Global Trust was set up to help people in need and advance education in the UK and Pakistan, but the inquiry’s wider investigation found no evidence to support funds being spent on this cause.

Commission analysis of the charity’s financial records, including annual returns and bank statements, revealed inconsistencies as well as evidence that charitable funds were misapplied.

Between 2010 and 2013, the annual returns claimed income of around £25,000 a year, but actual receipts varied between £885 and £6,424.  Similarly, while the charity’s annual returns indicated expenditure was between £10,000 to £25,000, bank analysis suggested it varied between £26,000 and £150 a year.

Payments included monthly gym membership, £6,100 to a digital TV channel where one of the trustees was a director, £14,600 to two debt collection agencies, and payments to Companies House, despite the charity not being registered with that agency.

There were also unattributed payments of £10,000 from the charity’s account, and bank charges incurred where cheques could not be honoured due to insufficient funds.

The report of the investigation also finds that the trustees failed to submit their charity’s annual accounts and returns in line with the law.

During the inquiry the trustees changed, and despite numerous efforts to locate the new trustees they could not be found. Two of the former trustees, in post at the outset of the inquiry, were also not locatable.

As the trustees could not be traced they were removed as trustees. The charity was taken off the register.

Amy Spiller, head of investigations team at the Charity Commission said: ‘The trustees of Islamic Global Trust failed in their duties. They used charitable funds for their own agendas, without regard for their charitable cause and the purposes for which money was donated. This was an abuse of charity and public trust.’

Charity Commission inquiry into Islamic Global Trust formerly a registered charity

Pat Sweet

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