Charity founder banned for eight years for siphoning off funds

A charity founder who pocketed funds raised to alleviate poverty in Kenya has been banned from senior roles in the voluntary sector for eight years.

Samson Ochieng has been disqualified from being a trustee or holding a senior position at any charity for the next eight years for his actions at Kenya Community Support Network (KCSN).

The regulator has also criticised trustees at the charity for allowing Ochieng to misuse funds. KCSN has now been removed from the charity register.

The charity had been set up to relieve poverty in Kenya and among Kenyans in the UK. This had included receiving grants from Comic Relief.

But the Charity Commission found that £39,500 had been paid directly to Ochieng and his family “without record-keeping to justify the payments”.

The regulator also found that a relation of Ochieng was appointed as a paid consultant to the charity without an open recruitment process. In addition, the charity was found to be carrying out marketing for Kenyan companies in the UK, which was outside of its remit as a charity.

“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,” said Charity Commission assistant director of investigations and inquiries Tim Hopkins.

“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.

“Our inquiry has rightly exposed the failures of this charity’s trustees and Mr Ochieng for his misuse of the charity and he has now been disqualified from serving as a trustee for his conduct.”

The regulator had first become involved with KCSN five years ago after Comic Relief had suspended its grants to the charity amid concerns that it was being used for personal gain. Its statutory inquiry was opened in 2018.

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