The Charity Commission has disqualified the founder of Kenya Community Support Network (KCSN) after finding he used the charity to provide significant financial benefits to him and his family
The charity has been dissolved and all trustees found responsible for misconduct and mismanagement for their part in allowing Samson Ochieng, the charity’s founder, to misuse the charity.
Founded in 2004, KCSN had charitable objects that included relieving poverty among Kenyans in the UK and in Kenya.
The Commission became involved with the charity in 2016 after Comic Relief suspended its grants to KCSN following concerns the charity was being used for personal financial gain.
Preliminary investigation identified 132 payments, totalling £15,991 and 21% of all expenditure (covering financial years 2016/17 and 2017/18), that were not supported by invoices.
Many of these payments appeared, from the narrative on the bank statement, to consist of payments to Ochieng, including cash withdrawals from the bank and lifestyle spending (shops, restaurants, fuel, mobile phones).
The Commission opened a statutory inquiry in 2018, finding that Ochieng had been in effective control of the charity since he founded it and that the trustees had not properly exercised their legal duties and responsibilities under charity law.
This had resulted in £39,500 paid direct to the founder and his family without adequate record-keeping to justify the payments, and a family member of the founder being appointed without an open recruitment process as a paid consultant to the charity.
In addition, the charity was found to be carrying out marketing activities on behalf of Kenyan commercial companies in the UK, an activity which was outside of its objects.
Tim Hopkins, assistant director of investigations and inquiries at the Charity Commission, said: ‘Good governance is not a bureaucratic detail, it’s essential in ensuring a charity delivers on its charitable purpose and isn’t exposed to unnecessary risk.
‘The trustees of Kenya Community Support Network failed to provide this and instead, through their lack of oversight, enabled serious misconduct and mismanagement to take place.’
The charity was removed from the charity register on 2 November 2020. Ochieng has been disqualified for eight years from acting as a trustee or holding a senior position at a charity.