Regulator investigates refugee charity over use of funds

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into a charitable fund for Rohingya refugees, which never registered as a charity, after concerns about how it was operating, and whether trustees had put charitable funds at risk

The fund is not a registered charity but as it raised money for charitable purposes to help Rohingya refugees who had fled violence in Myanmar, it falls within the Commission’s jurisdiction.

The inquiry was launched in April 2018 after the Commission received information from a partner agency about their separate investigation into the fund’s two trustees Mohammed Hasnath and Ruksana Ali.

The inquiry could not be announced until now due to the risk of prejudicing that investigation, which the Commission has been informed has now ended.

The fund raised money between July 2017 and March 2018 for the prevention and relief of poverty of Rohingya refugees, via two online donation platforms and through social media.

The Commission has acted to safeguard the fund by making an order to freeze a number of bank accounts holding the charitable funds.

The trustees are also ordered from undertaking specified transactions in the administration of the fund without prior written approval from the Commission.

The inquiry is examining whether the trustees have properly exercised their legal duties and responsibilities under charity law in the administration, governance and management of the fund.

It will look at whether the trustees have put charitable funds at risk by using them for non-charitable purposes; whether the trustees can adequately account for the end use of the charitable funds which have already been applied; the conduct of the trustees; and the optimal way to apply the protected charitable funds to support the Rohingya refugees who are the intended beneficiaries.

It is the Commission’s policy, after it has concluded an inquiry, to publish a report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were. The opening an inquiry is not in itself a finding of wrongdoing.

Pat Sweet | 24-07-2019

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