Regulator opens inquiry into charity’s funding transfers

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into CAWRM Ltd, a charity known as Jerusalem Merit, after identifying a number of serious regulatory concerns about possible financial irregularities

The charity’s object is to relieve poverty and financial hardship in particular, but not exclusively, amongst refugees in the Middle East.

The inquiry was opened after the Commission carried out a compliance visit to CAWRM Ltd which highlighted serious regulatory concerns.

These included the charity’s funds having been held in the personal bank account of an individual linked to the charity, at a time during which the individual was under police investigation for terrorist financing offences, and the discovery that not all of the funds held by the individual had been repaid to the charity.

The regulator also had concerns that charitable funds were being put at risk by the couriering of significant amounts of cash out of the UK to the Middle East, with approximately £45,000 transferred in this manner in the first half of 2018.

Other issues included the unauthorised employment and remuneration of a trustee; unexplained large payments to a limited company whose sole director is the individual linked to the charity; and the inability to account for the charity’s funds before it was registered with the Commission.

The Commission has issued an order restricting certain transactions that the trustees can enter into without the Commission’s prior consent.

The investigation will consider the administration, governance and management of the charity by its trustees; the financial controls and management of the charity and whether its funds have been properly expended solely for exclusively charitable purposes and can be accounted for; and whether or not the trustees have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities as trustees under charity law.

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.

Report by Pat Sweet

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